DIAMONDS AND GEMS
Venezuela voluntarily withdraws from the Kimberley Process
Seven human rights NGOs have successfully pressured Venezuela to withdraw from Kimberley Process diamond certification scheme.
Posted: Friday , 20 Jun 2008
RENO, NV -
The inter-sessional meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme ended Thursday in New Delhi with Venezuela agreeing to withdraw from the KP for two years.
KP Chairman Rahul Khullar announced that Venezuela will not export rough diamonds for the next two years, and that a KP team will visit Venezuela to assess the situation and prepare a report before the next plenary meeting in November.
Meanwhile, India called for a crackdown on fake KP diamond certificates.
Earlier this month several NGOs called for the expulsion of Venezuela from the Kimberley Process due to noncompliance and continued refusal to allow teams from KP member countries to inspect Venezuela's diamond industry. The county produces an estimated 150,000 carats of diamonds annually, but has reported no official exports after January 2005.
Venezuela's diamond deposits are found in Bolivar State. Diamond mining is carried out by teams of small-scale miners. Partnership Africa Canada said the small miners are supposed to belong to co-operatives, which are required to submit a monthly report to the regional mining officials of the co-operative's production. "Good as this sounds in theory, in practice co-operative members largely co-operate in hiding their production, so that little in the way of taxes ever finds its way to the government," according to PAC.
From Tuesday through Thursday India hosted 200 delegates representing 35 countries to review the progress of the Kimberley Process. India's Commerce Secretary G.K. Pillai urged members to "find a solution to the problem of KP certificates. It undermines the very core of what KPCS wants to achieve. The problem must be addressed."
Pillai said India's diamond industry has provided jobs to more than 1 million people and had a 60% share of the world's polished diamond industry by value and about 82% by volume.