crackdown on "blood" diamonds

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    from ABC Online;

    US President George W. Bush signed a law yesterday aimed at halting trade in uncut diamonds, saying the trade helped fund African civil wars and possibly provide a source of financing for Osama Bin Laden's al Qaeda network.

    Mr Bush said in a statement after signing the legislation that these so-called "conflict" or "blood" diamonds have been used by rebel groups in Africa "to finance their atrocities committed on civilian populations and their insurrections against internationally recognized governments."

    The new law clears the way for the United States to implement an international agreement to curb trade in uncut diamonds.

    Diamond importing and exporting countries agreed to the pact, known as the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme, last November after more than two years of negotiations.

    It went into effect in January with more than 50 countries participating.

    The scheme would track diamonds from mines to stores with the aim of halting trade in uncut stones that rebel groups in such countries as Sierra Leone, Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have used to finance wars and commit human rights abuses.

    A broad coalition of human rights, religious and humanitarian groups backed the legislation, which was approved by Congress earlier this month.

    The Clean Diamond Trade Act requires diamond dealers to keep records of all diamond shipments and make such records available to US law enforcement authorities.

    Americans buy 65 to 70 per cent of the world's diamonds, including rough diamonds, polished stones and jewelry containing diamonds, according to the US General Accounting Office (GAO).

    The United States imports relatively few rough diamonds compared to other countries, but still purchased approximately $US 816 million worth from 53 countries in 2000, the GAO said.

    Countries participating in the Kimberley Process will hold their meeting next week in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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    I don't know if this will affect any listed diamond companies or prices, but it is interesting.
    Dave R.
 
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