A deadly trade in blood diamonds persists three years after African governments and the diamond industry launched an initiative to prevent illicit gem sales from fueling African wars, according to reports by Reuters. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme, set up in January 2003 to provide guarantees that participating nations were not dealing in diamonds financing local conflicts, has helped stem the flow of blood diamonds but millions of dollars in illicit stones are still entering the world market the report states.
"The Kimberly Process has definitely improved the situation but there are serious loopholes," said Corinna Gilfillan, a spokeswoman for Global Witness, a London-based advocacy organization that investigates the links between natural resource exploitation and conflicts. "There is still a problem of diamonds fueling human rights abuses."Under the scheme, participants export rough diamonds, diamonds that are straight from the ground and not yet cut, issue a certificate stating the stones are conflict-free. To do that, participants or countries have to track the diamonds back to a mine or point of importation. Importing countries agree not to accept rough diamonds that have not been certified. Gilfillan said African governments may have laws on paper to prevent the mining and sale of blood diamonds but they do not have adequate means of enforcement. And the diamond industry is not delivering on self-regulation, she said. At the height of the wars funded by blood diamonds in the early 1990s, including those in Sierra Leone, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Angola, 4 percent to 14 percent of the diamonds entering the world market were sourced to African countries mired in internal wars, said Tom Zoellner, author of "The Heartless Stone," a new book on blood diamonds.