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UK: New survey - UK retailers not doing enough to combat conflict diamonds

A new survey of UK diamond jewellery retailers released today (29 May) by Amnesty International UK and Global Witness reveals that many leading UK retailers still do not have effective policies in place to help British consumers avoid conflict diamonds.

The survey found that:

  • More than three-quarters (79%) of retailers who did respond reported having no auditing procedures in place to combat the trade in conflict diamonds
  • Almost a third (31%) of retailers surveyed failed to respond to repeated requests to provide information about their policies, including Cartier, House of Fraser and John Lewis
  • Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed (62%) do not post any information on their websites about their policies on conflict diamonds

The survey of 42 top British retailers is released amid reports of continuing diamond smuggling and of conflict diamonds from West Africa reaching the international diamond market.

Although most companies that did respond reported adhering to the diamond industry’s minimal systems of self-regulation, only a few retailers, including Signet (and subsidiaries Ernest Jones, H Samuel and Leslie Davis) and Tiffany & Co., have reported going beyond the minimum industry standards and have put in place strong measures to combat conflict diamonds.

The trade in conflict diamonds has fuelled devastating wars in Sierra Leone, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo and Liberia, and over 4 million people have died as a result of these conflicts.

Global Witness campaigner Annie Dunnebacke said:

“Given the devastating impact of conflict diamonds, consumers have a right to demand adequate assurances that the diamonds they buy are conflict-free.”

Amnesty International UK Business and Human Rights Campaigner Nick Dearden said:

“After all the promises the diamond industry has made it is very disappointing to find that retailers here in the UK are still not taking the necessary steps to ensure the diamond supply chain is cleaned up from mine to shop counter.”

Amnesty International UK and Global Witness are calling for the following measures to help ensure that the diamond industry is living up to its commitments to combat conflict diamonds:

  • All sectors of the diamond industry, including the jewellery retail sector, should implement third-party audit measures and responsible sourcing policies
  • The UK, the European Commission and other governments should carry out stricter oversight of the diamond industry and strengthen and improve enforcement of the Kimberley Process
  • Jewellery retailers should make their policies on conflict diamonds prominently accessible on their websites

Amnesty International UK and Global Witness published a special ‘shoppers’ guide’ to diamonds last year. The brochure tells consumers what they need to know when they shop for diamond jewellery to try and ensure the diamonds are conflict-free.

Spokespeople are available for interview.

  • Read the survey (PDF)
  • View the chart - Top Retailers’ policies to combat blood diamonds (PDF)
  • More about blood diamonds /li>
  • More about Global Witness /li>

Note to editors:

The Kimberley Process is an international governmental certification scheme that was set up in 2003 to try and prevent the trade in conflict diamonds. The scheme requires governments to certify shipments of rough diamonds, and participating countries must implement their own control systems to enforce the Kimberley Process. Separately, the diamond industry has committed to implement a self-policing system of warranties, certifying that diamonds are conflict-free.

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