Lawmakers back bill curbing ‘conflict’ diamonds

Lawmakers back bill curbing ‘conflict’ diamonds U.S. lawmakers on Thursday introduced legislation they said would curb trade in “blood diamonds” financing wars in Africa and build support for a global effort to crack down on illicit diamonds, Reuters reported.

The legislation, a compromise between diamond wholesalers and retailers and human rights groups and other non-governmental organizations, would prohibit imports of diamonds and diamond jewelry into the United States from countries that have not implemented a forgery-proof system to track and authenticate the origin of rough diamonds.

“This bill will take the profit out of war,” said Rep. Tony Hall, an Ohio Democrat, who along with Virginia Republican Rep. Frank Wolf introduced the legislation in the House, according to Reuters.

Backers of the bill, sponsored in the Senate by Sens. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, Russ Feingold, a Wisconsin Democrat and Mike DeWine, an Ohio Republican, said at a news conference that it would help build momentum for an international effort to curb trade in illicit diamonds, Reuters reported.

“Blood diamonds” are believed to account for only about 4% of the world’s $7 billion trade in uncut stones, but they make enough money to keep wars going in places like Angola, Sierra Leone and Democratic Republic of Congo.

“De-legitimizing the trade in conflict diamonds will make it more difficult, and less lucrative, for some of the most odious actors on the international stage to continue pursuing their violent and abusive agendas,” Feingold said at the news conference.

With industry groups like the World Diamond Council joining with non-governmental organizations such as Oxfam and World Vision to back the legislation, it stands a good chance of being passed by Congress, Reuters reported.

Wolf told Reuters he hoped the legislation could be approved and signed into law before the Christmas gift-buying season.