Defamation Charges Dropped Against ‘Blood Diamonds’ Activist

The defamation case against Rafael Marques de Morais over his scathing depictions of Angola’s diamond industry has been dropped, the veteran activist tells JCK.

“I confirm the withdrawal of the charges,” he says via email.

Marques was being charged by leading generals in the Angolan military over his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, which includes tales of corruption sometime-graphic depictions of violence in the country’s diamond fields. Defamation is a criminal charge in Angola, and the case caused international outcry among human rights and journalism organizations.  

“There was no agreement, just an explanation in court, accepted by the generals and their companies,” he says. “I offered not to reprint the book again, after eight editions in two years. There is also an understanding that we must cooperate to address the current human rights challenges in the diamond region.”

The 43-year-old activist, who already served time in jail in 2000 for criticizing the country’s president, seemed unbowed even following his ordeal: “It is time for me to go back to work on the very issues that have caused my prosecution.”

The case did not stir up much noise in the jewelry industry, though two companies—Leber Jeweler and Tiffany & Co.—did sign a petition protesting his arrest. And NGOs hinted it could be an issue in the upcoming plenary for the Kimberley Process, which is chaired by Angola.

JCK News Director