How is the diamond market in June

Blood diamonds export illegal

Congo-Brazzaville excluded from diamond trade Kinshasa (AP)

In the fight against so-called blood diamonds, a UN body has excluded Congo-Brazzaville from the legal diamond trade. Before the decision was made, a panel of experts visited the African country at the beginning of June. It concluded that Congo-Brazzaville was trading in millions of carats in smuggled diamonds from other African countries. In order to avoid the strict controls on the world's largest diamond market, Antwerp, the gemstones were exported via Switzerland or the United Arab Emirates. The decision was announced on Friday by the body for the implementation of the Kimberley Agreement based in Canada.

The agreement, which came into force at the beginning of 2003, is intended to ensure that the origin of the diamonds offered on the world market can be traced and that they are not so-called blood diamonds, the sale of which is used to finance civil warring parties in Sierra Leone and other countries. The treaty was signed by 45 states that handle 98 percent of the world's diamond trade. The team of experts investigating the Kimberley Process, initiated in 1999, concluded that there was no guarantee that the diamonds exported from the West African Republic of the Congo-Brazzaville had nothing to do with the civil wars in Africa. The stated export volume of rough diamonds is a hundred times greater than the production in the country's mines.

"It must therefore be concluded that almost all exports are rough diamonds that came into the country without official documentation," the experts explain in their report. The Republic of the Congo therefore does not meet the minimum requirements of the Kimberley Process and must be excluded in order to ensure the credibility of the international efforts. The government of Congo-Brazzaville denied the allegations. The decision was made arbitrarily, said a representative of the mining ministry. The neighboring state of the Congo welcomed the move against it. It was said to be important for the stabilization of the region.

It is the third exclusion of a country under the Kimberley Process: The Central African Republic's eligibility was suspended last year, but is now back in force. Lebanon is still excluded because it has not transposed the Kimberley Process into national law. There is also an international diamond embargo against Liberia, whose former ruler Charles Taylor is said to have smuggled weapons and diamonds on a large scale.