Over the past four years, Angola has avoided being scrutinized in the conflict diamond trade, but recent allegations of human rights abuses have plunged this war-torn nation back into the international spotlight.
Last month, investigators for the Kimberley Process conducted a long overdue mission to Angola, the first since 2005. The team visited northern Angola, where recent reports of diamond smuggling and the mistreatment of foreign miners have made for tense border relations with the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As suspected, the current investigation uncovered numerous accounts of rape and brutality against miners from neighboring countries.
In spite of these disturbing reports, Angola Mining Minister Mankenda Ambroise denied all responsibility. When asked about the human rights violations that occurred under his watch, he insisted on blaming the illegal miners for entering his country, revealing a scapegoat attitude that has become all too common among leaders in the diamond industry. Predictably symptomatic of the Kimberley Process’s deteriorating state, Process Chair Bernard Esau had the gall to publicly declare the investigation a success and actually refused to comment on the reports of mass rape and brutality.
From a Brilliant Earth perspective, acknowledging human injustice and working to eliminate it must be an integral part of the Kimberley Process; otherwise it can never claim to be successful at eradicating conflict diamonds. We are once again disappointed at the Kimberley Process’s decision not to take a stance on the diamond violence occurring in Angola.
Angola’s development will undoubtedly continue to rely upon the diamond industry, but enforcing ethical diamond standards will help ensure the country’s political, financial and environmental success in the future. Brilliant Earth continues to strictly support diamond mines that operate according to fair trade standards while encouraging consumers to demand an ethical product. Our objective is to continue to support African diamonds, such as our Namibian diamonds, which contribute to prosperity and development while maintaining high ethical standards. We hope one day soon, human rights and environmental abuses will subside in Angola and we can offer fair trade, Angolan diamonds.