Call to Suspend Zim's Diamonds Monitor

It also called for the suspension of the monitoring arrangement for Marange diamonds introduced in November as part of the joint work plan between Zimbabwe and the Kimberley Process.

The coalition is also calling for the uspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process until there was evidence that human rights abuses in the diamond fields had ceased and Zimbabwe was complying fully with Kimberley Process minimum requirements.

“Zimbabwe has been breaking all the rules and shouldn’t be allowed to ship blood diamonds onto international markets,” said Alfred Brownell from Green Advocates Liberia. “KP governments’ failure to address the crisis in Marange so far is a betrayal, not only of the victims of abuse, but of the scheme’s founding principles.”

The call comes just before Monday’s meeting in Tel Aviv of the Kimberley Process (KP), an international government-led certification scheme established to prevent the trade in blood diamonds.

Maguwu was scheduled to attend the meeting and contribute to the discussion on continuing human rights abuses at Marange. He was jailed two weeks ago.  Since then, the Zimbabwean authorities have repeatedly blocked his access to lawyers, medication and food, and sought to obstruct or delay bail hearings. Last weekend, he was secretly removed from the Harare Remand Prison and interrogated at length without legal counsel.

“Farai’s Maguwu’s arrest, and continued detention, is a blatant attempt by the Zimbabwean authorities to silence any dissent from the diamond fields,” said Elly Harrowell, campaigner at Global Witness. “The government of Zimbabwe should immediately release him and stop persecuting individuals and organisations that report on human rights abuses.”

Maguwu, director of the Mutare-based Centre for Research and Development (CRD), was arrested following a meeting with Chikane, the South African monitor appointed by the Kimberley Process to assess Zimbabwe’s compliance with the minimum requirements of the diamond certification scheme. Chikane scheduled the timing of the meeting with Maguwu and its location. When Maguwu arrived, Zimbabwean state intelligence officials were also present, even though Chikane had been warned about the risks to Maguwu.

Within days of the meeting, police arrived at CRD’s offices looking for Maguwu in relation to information they alleged he had passed to Chikane. Maguwu went into hiding but turned himself in after police had severely beaten a member of his family.

“The credibility and viability of the monitor, and the monitoring arrangement in Zimbabwe have been compromised,” said Bernard Taylor, executive director of Partnership Africa Canada. “Maguwu’s arrest is directly related to the fact that he has provided the Kimberley Process with valuable information about events in Marange.”

The KP Civil Society Coalition also called on Kimberley Process member governments to take action to halt state-sponsored human rights abuses and smuggling in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields and preserve the credibility of the diamond certification scheme.