Central African Conflict-Diamonds Entering Cameroon, Group Says

(Bloomberg) -- Conflict diamonds from the Central African Republic are crossing into neighboring Cameroon and the legal supply chain because of corruption, smuggling and poor controls, Partnership Africa Canada said.

The Central African Republic, which the U.S. Geological Review ranked the world’s 10th-biggest diamond producer by value four years ago, has been riven by unrest since rebels overthrew President Francois Bozize in 2013.

Trade in the country’s gems was banned after the Kimberley Process, which seeks to halt their sale from war zones, said there was no way to determine if conflict diamonds were being shipped. An understanding reached last year allowed for the resumption of trade in rough diamonds from “compliant zones.”

Embargoed Central African Republic diamonds are being smuggled across the 900-kilometer (560-mile) border with “large shipments” passing through “Cameroon’s transit hubs undeclared,” Ottawa-based Partnership Africa Canada said Friday, citing interviews with miners, traders and exporters. Cameroon’s Secretary of State for Mines, Industries and Technological Development Calistus Gentry didn’t answer calls seeking comment.

“While international outcry about ‘blood diamonds’ financing war in the Central African Republic sparked action to stop the trade, the same spotlight has not been turned on CAR’s neighbors,” said Joanne Lebert, the advocacy group’s executive director. Conflict diamonds “still have entry points to international markets through Cameroon,” she said.