01 June 2007 | Paul Snell
Human rights groups are calling on the diamond industry to put pressure on its suppliers to prevent the trade of conflict diamonds.
Amnesty International and Global Witness said the industry had a responsibility to stop sourcing and purchasing the so-called "blood diamonds". They also called on retailers to implement third-party audit measures and responsible sourcing policies to ensure the diamonds they buy are not from conflict areas.
A survey of 42 diamond retailers in the UK found almost 80 per cent had no method to audit suppliers' compliance with the Kimberley Process - a certification scheme that ensures diamonds have not been bought from conflict areas. Suppliers follow a series of guidelines that are monitored by independent auditors the Working Group on Monitoring, which was set up by the diamond industry.
Amnesty International and Global Witness said suppliers must enforce the self-regulation procedure and that Kimberley Process monitors should ensure vendors follow the guidelines. Retailers were also urged to do more than rely on assurances provided by suppliers, by ensuring independent audits of vendors were carried out.
The campaign groups added that self-regulation of the industry would never eradicate conflict diamonds unless it had external and internal auditing processes. "Industry leaders have a responsibility to use their purchasing power to put pressure further up the supply chain to crack down on unscrupulous traders," their report said.