European sanctions on trade with diamonds from Zimbabwe may have been violated in Antwerp
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    European sanctions on trade with diamonds from Zimbabwe may have been violated in Antwerp

    Marange Diamond Fields.

    The NGO Global Witness reported today (11 September) that three calls for tenders made in 2013 – 2014 by the Antwerp World Diamond Center (AWDC), the Antwerp Diamond Tender Facility (ATF) and the First Element BVBA, have reportedly put Zimbabwean diamonds on sale through the Chinese company Anjin. The diamonds, according to Global Witness, came from the Marange mine, which was excluded in the past from the international market because its diamonds were considered “blood diamonds”.

    In 2002, the European Union introduced sanctions against Zimbabwe for the first time in response to escalating violence, intimidation of those critical of the regime and the introduction of repressive legislation. In 2008 and 2009, Zimbabwe Defense Industries (ZDI) and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) respectively were added to the EU sanctions list.

    Most of these sanctions were abolished by EU in September 2013 after elections in Zimbabwe. The sanctions against ZMDC were withdrawn following an intense Belgian lobby in favor of the company, according to Global Witness. So far, however, sanctions remain against President Mugabe, his wife and ZDI.

    A few months after the lifting of the sanctions, calls for tenders were organized in Antwerp. Each contained diamonds from a number of Marange companies, involving each time the Chinese company Anjin. According to Global Witness, the company is half owned by the Chinese investor AFECC, 10% by ZMDC and 40% by ZDI, via the companies Matt Bronze and Glass Finish.

    Since ZDI, which is on the list of EU sanctions, has such a large share of Anjin, Global Witness believes that European sanctions have been infringed by the sale of these diamonds in Antwerp. Buyers would also be at fault.

    AWDC points out in response to Global Witness that all EU sanctions have been followed strictly and that there is no tangible proof of connection between Anjin and ZDI. Anjin declined to respond to the allegations.

    Global Witness fears that the revenues from the diamond trade will be used by the Zimbabwean army to maintain its violence against the civilian population.

    Andy Sanchez
    The Brussels Times