Congress is ready to act on ‘conflict diamonds’ legislation

The U.S. House of Representatives could act in the “next few days” on a bill that would stem the trade in “conflict diamonds” linked to suspected terrorism, the bill’s sponsor said on Thursday.

The measure, which would require certification of imported diamonds’ origins, has broad bipartisan support, especially in light of reported links between diamonds mined by rebels in Sierra Leone and Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda organization, said Ohio Democrat Rep. Tony Hall (D-Ohio), the bill’s sponsor. Hall appeared at press conference Thursday with Sens. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senator Mike DeWine (R-OH), co-sponsors of a companion bill in the Senate.

“The problem of conflict diamonds is pretty black and white,” Hall said. “Crafting a solution requires navigating through the gray fog of trade law-but Congress must be careful not to lose its way. I am hopeful the House of Representatives will take this up in the next few days, and urge it to endorse legislation that will make a real difference in ending this scourge.”

“If we are going to cut off funds used by terrorists to carry out their attacks. We can’t ignore the millions of dollars they earn from the illegal diamond trade,” added Illinois Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin, co-sponsor of a companion bill in the Senate.

Backers of the U.S. legislation say it would lend additional support to the “Kimberly process,” an international effort among the diamond and jewelry industries, human rights organizations, and countries involved in the diamond trade to develop a system for ensuring that diamonds are not coming illicit sources.