A few weeks ago it emerged that the US had banned Zimbabwe diamonds because they were produced using forced labour. The govt vehemently denied this by saying jobs are scarce how can people be forced to work etc.
BBC took the time to investigate the issue and they came up with the following:
Access for journalists and rights groups to these areas is highly restricted, with special authorisation required to gain access.
A group that monitors employment practices at the Marange diamond mines has collected testimonies of forced labour practices.
The chairman of the Bocha Diamond Trust, Moses Mukwada, told the BBC there had been cases of villagers being rounded up and forced to work in the mines.
Other groups, however, are more cautious.
The Centre for Natural Resources Governance (CNRG), an organisation that campaigns for rights in mining areas, says it has documented physical violence against miners, but doesn’t have information that forced labour is prevalent.
“As an organisation, we are not totally dismissing the issue [of forced labour], but we have no information [from the US government]and we would like to know who is forcing who,” says Simiso Mlevu, a spokesperson for CNRG.
This isn’t the first time that allegations of human rights abuses have been directed at the Zimbabwe government’s operation in the Marange mines.
Rights groups have regularly called for the diamonds to be classified as “conflict diamonds” to restrict exports, and back in 2011 the BBC found evidence of the use of severe beatings and sexual assault in the area.
“The sad truth is that diamonds tainted by human rights abuses from Marange or elsewhere can still reach the global diamond market easily,” the CNRG says.
It estimates that about 40 deaths occur annually as a result of the ill-treatment of mineworkers.