Tuesday, December 13, 2011

US sanctions two diamond mines in Zimbabwe

The United States on Monday sanctioned two diamond mines located in Zimbabwe's Marange region, the scene of serious human rights abuses in 2008.

A mine belonging to state-owned Marange Resources and another owned by publicly held Mbada Diamonds were added to a US Treasury Department list targeting entities linked to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe's regime.

Under the sanctions, the US assets of targeted entities are blocked and US nationals or companies are generally prohibited from doing business with them.

The Marange mines are considered among the richest discovered in Africa in decades. They were taken over in 2008 by the Zimbabwean army which expelled thousands of miners and forced civilians to replace them.

According to human rights groups about 200 people were killed and others beaten or raped, prompting the Kimberley Process, the world body charged with eliminating "blood diamonds," to suspend diamond exports from those mines.

But in a controversial decision, the Kimberley Process authorized sales of diamonds from the two mines again on November 1. The United States abstained in the vote, saying it wanted to help world body resolve the impasse after months of negotiations.

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