Congo Republic excluded from Kimberly Process

The Congo Republic protested its exclusion from the list of countries whose diamond exports are not funding armed conflicts, saying the monitoring group had violated its own certification procedures, Reuters reports.

The Kimberley Process struck the Congo Republic off its membership list last Friday, saying authorities could not account for the origin of the large quantity of diamonds it was officially exporting. The process was set up last year in response to conflicts in African states such as Sierra Leone, Angola, and Congo, where armed groups fought to control diamond areas and sold the stones to fund their campaigns.

In its report, the fact-finding mission stated that it found Congo was exporting diamonds at a rate that is “approximately 100 times greater than its estimated production.” Furthermore, it said, in an apparent attempt to evade taxes, stones being brought into Switzerland were being declared at far less than their market price.

“The findings of the review mission are clear,” Tim Martin, chairman of the Kimberley Process forum, said in a statement. “The Republic of Congo cannot account for the origin of large quantities of rough diamonds that it is officially exporting.”

The World Diamond Council, in a statement released July 16, supported the Kimberley Process decision.

“A credible and effective KPCS is essential to the continued viability of the legitimate diamond trade and to the positive image and reputation of the product, Said Eli Izhakoff, chairman and CEO of the WDC, said. “These are core elements in the foundation of consumer confidence in diamonds as a symbol of love. The diamond industry fully supports the Chairman’s decision.”