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Pres. Signature is Next Step for Ban on Gems, Jade from Myanmar

Jul 23, 2008 2:48 PM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT...  Congress will send legislation to President George W. Bush that is meant to block firms from importing gemstones from Myanmar. While it is illegal for United States companies to directly import these products, the Tom Lantos Block Burmese JADE Act (H. Res.1341) will keep gems, including jade and rubies, from entering the United States via third-party countries.

The bill, which originated in the House and passed the Senate yesterday, also makes leaders, officers, and their families in Myanmar (also called Burma) ineligible for visas to the United States.

"We cannot allow this regime to prosper financially while they continue to violate the human rights of their own people," said Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-Calif.) "This bill hits the Burmese leaders where it hurts - in the wallet. It is our hope that these sanctions will push other countries to examine their own financial dealings with Burma."

The Jewelers of America (JA) called for such a ban on gemstones and jade to the United States, and major retailers such as Tiffany`s and Bulgari have voluntarily implemented a ban.

 "Jewelers of America welcomes the passage of this important amendment and stands ready to work with the administration as it moves to implement the new requirements," sais JA president and CEO Matthew A. Runci.

JA issued an advisory to its members in fourth quarter 2007, detailing its deep concern about the Burmese military government's longstanding human rights violations. "Jewelers of America members believe it is their responsibility to support and respect the protection of international human rights within their sphere of influence and to make sure the sourcing of gemstones is not complicit in human rights abuses, in line with the commitments they assume to the association's Statement of Principles," Runci said at the time.

"These commitments include adherence to the principles of U.N. Global Compact, which JA has agreed to support," Runci added. 

Tags: Bulgari, Government, Jewelers of America, Myanmar, United States
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