DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – The failure of European jewellery firms to scrutinise their supply chains and a flawed diamond certification scheme are fuelling child labour and sexual abuse in artisanal mines in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a campaign group said on Thursday.
Thousands of children work illegally in diamond mines in Congo’s diamond-rich Kasai region – mainly to pay for food and school fees – and girls who live around the mines are prey to rape, forced marriage and prostitution, according to Swedwatch.
Yet few jewellery firms have policies to assess the risk of child labour and abuses in their diamond supply chains, and many do not provide public information about efforts to operate responsibly, Swedwatch said in a report.
Swedwatch also said the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), an initiative seeking to end trade in “blood diamonds” used to finance conflict, was obscuring rights abuses. The KPCS classifies less than 0.1 percent of the world’s diamonds as untradeable for ethical reasons.
Yet this figure only includes diamonds used by rebel groups to finance conflict, and does not account for diamond extraction involving rights violations across Africa, Swedwatch said.
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