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In February 2000 De Beers Consolidated Mines of South Africa announced that it would no longer buy any diamonds sourced from regions controlled by armed groups opposed to the legitimate authority in Sierra Leone – principally the Revolutionary United Front (RUF). Amnesty International believes that this announcement failed to meet international concern at a lack of transparency in the international trade in diamonds.

Additionally, governments, companies and trading bodies, particularly the Hoge Raad Voor Diamant (HRVD), the Diamond High Council based in Antwerp, Belgium, must take immediate steps to prevent the trade in diamonds mined from RUF-controlled areas of Sierra Leone. Major centres of diamond operations—the UK, Israel and India— must take similar steps.

Kate Allen, Director of Amnesty International UK, said:

'Diamonds from Sierra Leone have been used to fund the transfer of weapons to RUF rebels who have committed widespread human rights abuses in Sierra Leone. The trade in ‘blood diamonds' must stop and be seen to be stopped.'

In view of the continued failure of the diamond trading community to regulate itself despite concerns expressed at the highest levels of governments and consumers worldwide, Amnesty International calls upon governments to require the diamond trading community, particularly the Diamond High Council in Belgium, to take immediate steps to make it obligatory for all traders to declare the source of origin of the diamonds, and not the last country of shipment.

Amnesty International is also calling on the UN Security Council to investigate the origins of diamonds exported from Liberia, Guinea and Cote D'Ivoire to ensure that these are not from rebel-held areas of Sierra Leone. These countries should also facilitate the investigation.

In addition, Amnesty International wishes to see the next G8 foreign ministers meeting – scheduled for July in Miyazaki, Japan – tackle the issue of diamonds and links to human rights violations. In a statement to the House of Commons on 15 May, British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook affirmed his determination to press for an international system of certification that diamonds do not come from conflict areas.

Background According to one recent estimate, diamonds from Sierra Leone form just over 1% of the total value of diamonds sold worldwide.

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