Rapaport Magazine

Taylor’s Defense Boycotts Trial

Jewelers Launch Fairtrade Gold, Zimbabwe’s Diamond Sales Up

By Rapaport
The three-year trial against Charles Taylor, the former Liberian president accused of war crimes, entered its final stages at The Hague with Taylor’s lawyer boycotting the procedure and accusing the judges of “putting their egos ahead of justice” as reported by the Associated Press (AP). The attorney, Courtney Griffiths, stormed out of the court after judges refused to accept a written summary of

Taylor’s defense, the Associated Newspapers Company reported. He was ordered to apologize and end his boycott. At press time, Griffiths had been given additional time to present his case.

This landmark case marks the first international prosecution of a former African head of state. Taylor pleaded innocent to 11 charges of war crimes against humanity for allegedly promoting Sierra Leone’s civil war by arming rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) in return for blood diamonds. The trial was moved to The Hague for fear that Taylor’s presence in Sierra Leone would “destabilize the region,” according to Agence France-Press.

The Special Tribunal for Sierra Leone is composed of three judges: Presiding Judge Teresa Doherty of Ireland, Judge Richard Lussick of Samoa and Judge Julia Sebutinde of Uganda. Doherty and Lussick issued the decision rejecting Taylor’s final brief because it was filed 20 days after the January 14 deadline. In her dissent, Sebutinde warned that the refusal to accept the brief denies Taylor’s “fundamental right to defend himself.” According to the AP, Sebutinde has “repeatedly issued dissenting views supporting Taylor’s stance” and opposed the court’s threat to sanction Griffiths, a British attorney.

Taylor joined Griffiths in the boycott, which he explained as a refusal to “lend legitimacy to the proceedings,” the Evening Standard reported. Prosecutor Brenda Hollis responded that Taylor and his lawyer had no right to leave.

“The accused is not attending a social event. He may not RSVP at the last minute,” she said.

If convicted, Taylor would serve a prison sentence in Britain.*


Jewelers Launch Fairtrade Gold

A number of jewelers were licensed to offer Fairtrade and Fairmined gold products in February, including Garrard, CRED, Fifi Bijoux, Ingle & Rhode, Harriet Kelsall of the U.K. and Fair Trade Jewellery Company (FTJCo) ofToronto. Collections and one-off pieces, such as wedding and engagement rings, earrings and necklaces, were made available, hallmarked with the “Fairtrade” and “Fairmined” marks.

Fairtrade International (FLO) stated that more than 100 million people are impacted directly or indirectly by artisanal and small-scale mining. Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is mined in a more socially and environmentally responsible manner, creating a path of independence and resilience for mining communities, like the Condoto community of Columbia, a partner in the Oro Verde “Green Gold” initiative and a verifiable source of ecological gold for artisan jeweler and artist communities worldwide.

The Condoto miners do not use toxic chemicals, such as cyanide or mercury, and Oro Verde’s environmentally friendly approach is balanced with tangible incentives and rewards for minimum-impact practices. It is a mutually beneficial relationship between the community members who are prospecting and extracting the metal and those who are selling and buying the raw metal.


Zimbabwe’s Diamond Sales Up

Rough diamonds sales in Zimbabwe have already surpassed $174 million for January and February, according to The Herald. However, sources refute Finance Minister Tendai Biti’s claim that the treasury has not benefitted from these sales and could delay the pay raise to civil servants promised by President Robert Mugabe.

Biti requested an investigation into the sale of Marange diamonds by the Minerals and Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) during 2010, claiming that $100 million is missing. However, according to the Harare Standard, the MMCZ deposited $170 million into the Treasury. The newspaper also reported that there has been speculation that President Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has been using funds culled from diamond sales to finance the party’s upcoming elections.

The government also announced that a new law requiring foreign mining companies to sell a majority of their shares to locals will soon go into effect. The Herald reported that Saviour Kasukuwere, the country’s Indigenization and Empowerment Minister, noted that regulations will require 100 percent local ownership of alluvial diamond mines and that other minerals must be 51 percent owned by Zimbabweans.

In related news, Zimbabwe withdrew charges against three of five directors from the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) who were accused of fraudulently facilitating diamond acquisitions: Gloria Mawarire, Mark Tsomondo and Tichaona Muhonde. The Sunday Times reported that the state will proceed with altered charges against Lovemore Kurotwi and Dominic Mubaiwa.*

— Additional reporting provided by Acquire Media.

Article from the Rapaport Magazine - March 2011. To subscribe click here.

Comment Comment Email Email Print Print Facebook Facebook Twitter Twitter Share Share
Comments: (0)  Add comment Add Comment
Arrange Comments Last to First