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Monday, August 16, 2010

RapNet Bans Zimbabwe's Marange Diamonds

In two strongly worded statements, the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network (also known as RapNet), has warned its members that trading diamonds from Zimbabwe's Marange diamonds fields will result in expulsion from the network and having their names disclosed.

Martin Rapaport (pictured), who owns and operates the international diamond trading network, wrote the statements on August 12 and 15, which are on the Rapaport Web site.

He warned members that even though the diamonds sold August 11 were cleared by the Kimberley Process certification program—an international organization that attempts to ban the sale of “blood” or “conflict” diamonds (which refers to a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance an insurgency, invading army's war efforts, or a warlord’s activity)—trading these diamonds may still be illegal in the US, UK and EU.

Beginning in 2008 the Zimbabwe army took over the Marange fields forcing out tens of thousands of small-scale miners. These miners were massacred by soldiers and villagers have been beaten, raped and forced to work as virtual slaves. The human rights abuses led to Zimbabwe's being suspended from the Kimberley Process. The KP voted to reinstate Zimbabwe in July.

“Rapaport strongly advises all diamond buyers not to trade in KP-certified diamonds from Marange and to request written assurance from their suppliers that their diamonds have not been sourced from Marange, Martin Rapaport wrote August 12. “RapNet, the Rapaport Diamond Trading Network, will not allow the trading of any diamonds sourced from Marange, Zimbabwe. Members found to have knowingly offered Marange diamonds for sale on RapNet will be expelled and their names will be publicly communicated.”

On August 15, he wrote a letter to the dealer network, which he also made public on his Web site, stating that anyone who wishes to cancel their membership because of the restriction can do so within 30 days and receive a refund for the unused portion of their RapNet subscription.

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