Other Facets no 20

In ‘Massive Brazilian Diamond Fraud,’ Brazil is one of the oldest diamond producing countries in the world, but nobody can say where half of the diamonds it exports have been mined, and government certificates accompanying fully one quarter of Brazilian exports are fraudulent. ‘South American diamond exports in disarray’ reveals an illegal tri-border diamond smuggling system, operating completely outside the international Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for rough diamonds. The cross-border diamond smuggling is made possible by weak controls in Brazil and Venezuela. In ‘Charles Taylor in prison,’ Taylor’s route to the Special Court was a long one, but the end came suddenly and dramatically. ‘Kouwenhoven war crimes trial ends’ Gus Kouwenhoven, a 63-year old Dutch businessman who ran a hotel and several logging operations in Liberia during the regime of ex-president Charles Taylor, was found guilty on June 7 at his trial in The Hague. Kouwenhoven was tried on charges of war crimes and of violating UN embargos on weapons to, and timber from Liberia. ‘Diamond Development Initiative issues first report’ is a study on the dynamics of diamond marketing and pricing in Sierra Leone. It has long been known that artisanal diamond diggers labour under unhealthy and often dangerous conditions. It is also no secret that they earn a fraction of the value of the diamonds that are exported from producer countries. In ‘Major changes afoot in Belgium : Levelling the commercial playing field,’ Belgium’s diamond industry, long concerned over the leakage of business to Dubai (where diamond turnover was $10 billion in 2005), has negotiated a new arrangement with the government, aimed at making Belgium a more attractive location for the diamond trade. In ‘The two Congos : Intimidation and threats against transparency activists’ two prominent campaigners against human rights abuse and corruption in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville) were arrested, allegedly for misappropriating funds from the NGO that one of them founded.