Brilliant Earth Non-Profit Fund
Monitoring Zimbabwe Diamonds for Human Rights Abuses
Brilliant Earth is proud to support the Center for Research and Development (CRD), a human rights organization based in Zimbabwe that advocates for responsible mining. The CRD will use our donation to combat diamond smuggling in the Marange diamond fields of eastern Zimbabwe. Our funding will also help protect the rights of local residents who are being forcibly relocated to make way for mining operations.
The Marange diamond fields are the location of some of the most shocking diamond-related human rights abuses in recent years. In 2008, following the discovery of a massive diamond deposit, the Zimbabwean military seized control of the Marange diamond fields, killing several hundred local residents in the process. The military then used brutal methods—including forced labor, child labor, torture, beatings, and sexual violence—to oversee mining activities. Diamonds were smuggled out of the country, with the profits kept by top military officials and political allies of President Robert Mugabe.
Responding to international pressure, the Zimbabwean government has made some cosmetic improvements to its mining practices. However, serious human rights abuses continue, and corruption and smuggling remain rampant. Ongoing smuggling, in fact, has transformed the once sleepy border town of Manica, in neighboring Mozambique, into a booming center for trade in smuggled diamonds. With support from Brilliant Earth, the CRD will identify the loopholes and lack of internal controls that perpetuate diamond smuggling. The CRD also will urge Mozambican authorities to clamp down on the trade in smuggled diamonds.
Another continuing problem in the Marange diamond fields is the forced relocation of local residents. The Zimbabwean government has forced hundreds of local residents to leave their homes to make way for diamond mining. With help from Brilliant Earth, the CRD will work to ensure that relocated residents are treated in compliance with international human rights standards. In particular, the CRD will lobby the Zimbabwean government to provide adequate housing and fair compensation for those residents who have been forced from their homes.
Brilliant Earth's donation to the CRD is relevant and essential in light of the intimidation tactics being used by the Zimbabwean government to deter independent monitoring of the Marange diamond fields. The CRD’s own director was imprisoned in June 2010 for gathering information on continued human rights abuses in the area. He was released more than a month later, but only after an international outcry and his designation as a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International. Funding from Brilliant Earth is helping to facilitate the CRD’s courageous and essential advocacy work going forward.