Torture Diamonds

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 15 2011 @ 4:58pm

Isaac Chotiner keeps tabs on the trafficking:

After a decade of bloodshed and atrocity, the diamond industry was finally shamed into agreeing to a process whereby diamonds would be deemed "conflict-free" before being sold on the world market. The so-called Kimberley Process, established in 2003, had one glaring weakness, however: it was an industry-run effort with almost no verification mechanisms. So, naturally, last year, amid controversy over whether diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange diamond fields would be allowed verification and export, the Kimberley Process granted Robert Mugabe's government its approval.

The BBC investigates the origin of those diamonds:

A torture camp run by Zimbabwe's security forces is operating in the country's rich Marange diamond fields, BBC Panorama has found. The programme heard from recent victims who told of severe beatings and sexual assault…The main torture camp uncovered by the programme is known locally as "Diamond Base". Witnesses said it is a remote collection of military tents, with an outdoor razor wire enclosure where the prisoners are kept. It is near an area known as Zengeni in Marange, said to be one of the world's most significant diamond fields. The camp is about one mile from the main Mbada mine that the EU wants to approve exports from. The company that runs the mine is headed by a personal friend of President Mugabe.

A second camp is located in nearby Muchena. "It is the place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings," a victim who was released from the main camp in February told the BBC.

Earlier coverage of blood diamonds and alternative engagement gifts here, here and here. Parts 2 and 3 of the above 2009 Dateline program here and here.