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Groups Up Their Demands Ahead of KP Meeting

NGOs: Release Maguwu and Suspend Both Chikane and Zimbabwe

Jun 18, 2010 10:33 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... Global Witness, Partnership Africa Canada (PAC) and Green Advocates Liberia have demanded the immediate release of Farai Maguwu from Zimbabwe prison. Maguwu is the director of the Mutare-based Centre for Research and Development (CRD),  a group that has monitored conditions in the diamond fields of Zimbabwe for some time. 

The groups also called for the suspension of Abbey Chikane as the Kimberley Process (KP) monitor for Zimbabwe and the suspension of the monitoring arrangement for Marange diamonds that was introduced in November as part of the joint work plan between Zimbabwe and the KP. Earlier this week, the groups called for the immediate suspension of Zimbabwe from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) for a number of violations.

The heavyweight nongovernmental (NGO) organizations, which are civil society stakeholders in the KP, called for Maguwu's release to coincide with the KP's June 21 intercessional meeting in Tel Aviv. Maguwu was scheduled to attend the meeting and contribute to the discussion on continuing human rights abuses in Marange, according to the groups. He was jailed two weeks ago and news reports today suggested that he could be granted bail as early as Monday.

According to Global Witness and PAC, however, since Maguwu's arrest, authorities have "repeatedly blocked his access to lawyers, medication and food, and sought to obstruct or delay bail hearings. Last weekend, he was secretly removed from the Harare Remand Prison and interrogated at length without legal counsel."

Elly Harrowell, a campaigner at Global Witness, added, “Farai Maguwu’s arrest, and continued detention, is a blatant attempt by the Zimbabwean authorities to silence any dissent from the diamond fields. The government of Zimbabwe should immediately release him and stop persecuting individuals and organizations that report on human rights abuses.”

The government arrested Maguwu for allegedly giving documentation to KP monitor Chikane.

“The credibility and viability of the monitor and the monitoring arrangement in Zimbabwe have been compromised,” said Bernard Taylor, the executive director of PAC. “Maguwu’s arrest is directly related to the fact that he has provided the Kimberley Process with valuable information about events in Marange.”

The KP civil society coalition also called upon member governments to take action to halt "state-sponsored human rights abuses and smuggling in Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields and preserve the credibility of the diamond certification scheme."

Alfred Brownell from Green Advocates Liberia said, “Zimbabwe has been breaking all the rules and shouldn’t be allowed to ship blood diamonds onto international markets. KP governments’ failure to address the crisis in Marange so far is a betrayal, not only of the victims of abuse, but of the scheme’s founding principles.”

Global Witness and PAC both published reports this week detailing how the trade in blood diamonds from Zimbabwe has undermined the KP's credibility. Read the reports at the following links:

1) Return of the Blood Diamond
http://www.globalwitness.org/media_library_detail.php/996/en/return_of_the_blood_diamond_the_deadly_race_to_con

2) Diamonds and Clubs
http://www.pacweb.org/Documents/diamonds_KP/Zimbabwe-Diamonds_and_clubs-eng-June2010.pdf 

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Tags: Abbey Chikane, Blood Diamonds, Government, Jeff Miller, Kimberley Process, NGO, Zimbabwe
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