Following the protests of Zimbabweans against the impacts of diamond mining activities on their community on Monday, the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition urged the Zimbabwe Government to investigate allegations of torture against artisanal miners and the wider Marange community. It also urged the government to allow the Marange community to enjoy freedom of association and assembly like other communities in Zimbabwe.
In addition the coalition also demanded the government to: “De-list Marange from areas classified under Protected Places and Areas Act of Zimbabwe, Chapter 11:12. Prosecute perpetrators of human rights violations in Marange, especially security guards of ZCDC who are allegedly community abuses daily with impunity.”
It was on 23 April 2018, thousands of villagers in Marange, Zimbabwe, took to the streets to protest against the impacts of diamond mining activities on their community. Among the grievances is the fact that this entire community was placed under Protected Areas and Places Act of Zimbabwe, Chapter 11:12, which virtually cuts the Marange community off from the rest of Zimbabwe.
Visitors to Marange are required to obtain a permit from the Police in Mutare before entering the community. Community members found without national identity documents are taken to the military base where they are sometimes tortured or forced to pay a ransom.
“This is a daily occurrence. In reality the Marange community is an open prison where freedom of movement and association have been withdrawn by the Zimbabwe government. This is in violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Section 21 of African Charter on Human and People’s Rights and more importantly, this is in blatant violation of Sections 49, 51, 52, 56 and 58 of the Zimbabwe Constitutions,” the coalition said in its statement.
“The community is also demanding an end to torture as a means of punishing artisanal miners. Section 53 of the Zimbabwe constitution outlaws torture. The coalition has seen images of artisanal miners mauled by vicious ZCDC security dogs in Marange. We are appalled with several reports from artisanal miners saying they are first handcuffed by the security guards and thereafter dogs are set on them. Continued violence against the Marange community and artisanal miners is unacceptable,” it said.
The coalition is also gravely concerned with the failure by the Zimbabwe government, which wholly owns ZCDC, and held 50% shares in previous diamond mining firms in Marange except in Marange Resources where it had a 100% stake, to invest diamond profits in the Marange community. Zimbabwean coalition members report that the road infrastructure in Marange is in an advanced state of disrepair.
“We are cognizant that in February this year the Marange community petitioned parliament and to date they haven’t received feedback. In light of the foregoing, we find it extremely difficult to classify Zimbabwe’s Marange diamonds as conflict free. Violations of community rights by legitimate governments is at the heart of calls by the coalition and international NGOs such as Human Rights Watch, Global Witness, Impact (Formerly Partnership Africa Canada) and Amnesty International to widen the definition of ‘conflict diamonds’.”
The coalition believes that securing the rights of diamond mining communities is at the core of the reasons for the formation of the KPCS. Refusing to acknowledge the responsibility of the Kimberley Process to protect diamond mining communities is a self-serving argument that is casting the entire diamond supply chain in bad light.
The Coalition also calls on the Kimberly Process to do the following:
- Send a fact finding mission to Zimbabwe to investigate the community grievances
- Take practical steps to force the Zimbabwe government to restore freedom of movement and association in the Marange Community
- Demand that Zimbabwe complies with the Washington Declaration on Alluvial Production which calls on governments to formalize artisanal diamond. This will go a long way in reducing human rights violations against artisanal miners in Marange.
Members for the Kimberley Process Civil Society Coalition include:
Center for Natural Resource Governance (CNRG)
Centre du Commerce International pour le Développement (CECIDE)
Centre National d’Appui au Développement et à la Participation Populaire (CENADEP)
Groupe de Recherche et de Plaidoyer sur les Industries Extractives (GRPIE)
Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD)
Réseau de Lutte contre la Faim (RELUFA)
The International Peace Information Service (IPIS)
Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association (ZELA)