Establishing a database to share information was among recommendations made when representatives of Guyana, Brazil and Venezuela met in Boa Vista, Brazil recently to discuss diamond trade issues.
The meeting, held in September, was organized by Brazil’s Kimberley Process authorities. The three countries are all part of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme. This is a regulatory system backed by the United Nations which seeks to track the international production and movement of diamonds.
Speaking with Stabroek News, Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) Legal Advisor, Rosemary Benjamin-Noble, who also manages Guyana’s Kimberley Process programme and who attended the meeting, said that the participants noted that a lot of the diamonds were found close to their border areas and that some diamonds “might be slipping into each other’s systems”.
She stated that during the course of the September 4-5 meeting, recommendations made included the strengthening of data sharing which would encompass the origin of the diamond and make the officials more aware of the characteristics of the diamonds from the respective countries. She said that in this regard, the creation of a database was proposed. Benjamin-Noble added that it was recognized that there was a need to train each other in the evaluating of diamonds from the three countries. She said that laws with regard to the diamond trade in the three countries were in varying stages.
The Guyana system, she said, is based on traceability from the field to the port of export, which was basically the same system as Brazil, while Venezuela does not have that amount of law at this time.
Benjamin-Noble noted that the recommendations were proposals made to be taken back to their respective agencies for discussion. Asked about diamond smuggling in Guyana, she said there had been some allegations “here and there”, though not any in recent times. She asserted that the Process is strictly adhered to locally. “Where we have queries, we call the exporter in and they must address the queries to our satisfaction.” she said.
She added that it may be occurring between the three countries but it would be incorrect to say that it was on a large scale as there was no evidence of this. “You always have to be alert to challenges of this nature and seek proof,” she stated noting that everything comes down to evidence.
Among other recommendations made at the meeting were that such tri-lateral meetings be held periodically and that geological as well as trade export statistics be exchanged. The legal adviser emphasized that Guyana has been a pretty good participant in the Process and “has been recognized as one of the best”.
The Kimberley Process evolved out of international concern over the role that diamonds have played in sustaining guerilla and terrorist operations in various parts of the world, notably in conflict ridden regions of Liberia, the Congo, Angola and Sierra Leone. The Process stipulates that freshly mined diamonds should be sealed in registered containers that certify their country of origin and that diamond exporters should not accept unregistered gems that might profit insurgents or criminals.
The process was initiated when diamond-producing countries in Southern Africa met in Kimberley, South Africa in May 2000 to discuss ways of stopping the trade in “conflict diamonds” and ensuring that diamond purchases were not funding violence.