By Staff Reporter
THE Centre for Natural Resources Governance CNRG has called on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) to investigate and hold to account, perpetrators of torture and extrajudicial killings in Marange diamond fields.
The call comes after security guards of state-owned Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) last week set dogs and seriously injured several illegal panners of the gemstone.
The artisanal miners were apprehended by the guards whilst panning for diamonds near Mbada Hills in Marange.
“We are appalled by the continued use of torture and killings as punishment against artisanal miners by state security agents and the state owned ZCDC guards,” CNRG executive director Farai Muguwu said.
“The guards ordered them to sit down at gun point, handcuffed and set vicious dogs on them, leading to serious injuries. The artisanal miners were denied food and access to ablution facilities.
“On 10 August, an artisanal miner was caught panning in the company of his colleagues. Whilst others managed to escape, he was caught and his hands were tied and dogs set on him till he lost consciousness.
“The use of torture and cold-blooded killings are meant to act as a deterrent to keep artisanal miners away from Marange.
“However, despite the torture, thousands of artisanal miners continue to flock to Marange diamond fields daily as they try to escape from the debilitating economic crisis engulfing Zimbabwe.”
The lobby group also wants the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and ZHRC to help in the successful prosecution perpetrators of human rights violations and bring an end to the impunity they enjoy.
Muguwu went on to say artisanal diamond mining is also aided and fuelled by ZCDC security as well as police and army operatives stationed in Marange who form syndicates with some artisanal miners.
“Soldiers have sometimes teamed up with miners and broken into ZCDC premises where they steal diamond ore. ZCDC guards charge anything between $500 and $2000 to facilitate entry of artisanal mining syndicates into diamonds fields,” he said.
“Violence only takes place when artisanal miners enter the diamond fields without bribing the security guards, and not a single guard has been arrested for the killings.”
Following the discovery of diamonds in Marange in June 2006, the police and army have used brutal force to control access to the area and to take over unlicenced diamonds mining and trading.
In June this year, Zimbabwean diamonds were blacklisted due to reports of human rights abuses in Marange district by Blue Nile.
Blue Nile, one of the top jewellers in the United States (US), is committed to ensuring that the highest ethical standards are observed when sourcing diamonds and jewellery.