News / Africa

Liberia Losing Revenue from Diamonds Sold In Sierra Leone

Liberia Losing Revenue from Diamonds Sold In Sierra Leone
Liberia Losing Revenue from Diamonds Sold In Sierra Leone

Liberian diamonds are being sold in Sierra Leone in violation of the Kimberley Process that is intended to track the origin of conflict minerals.  Liberia's government is trying to stop that trade and regain lost tax revenue.

Diamond profits fueled much of the violence in the long-running civil wars in Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Former Liberian President Charles Taylor is on trial at the International Criminal Court on charges of crimes against humanity for supporting Sierra Leone's main rebel group.  Prosecutors argue those rebels paid Mr. Taylor with diamonds mined along their common border in the Mano River basin.

In Liberia's Grand Cape Mount County, youth leader Morris Trawally says security along the border has greatly improved with the election of a government to replace Mr. Taylor.

"Certainly things have overwhelming improved since the departure of the former president of Liberia," said Morris Trawally. "As you know, when he was here things were not in place as compared to now.  We must commend the government of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.  They are doing well through the backing of the United Nations mission in Liberia."

Farmer Emmanuel Wiah says cross-border trade between Sierra Leone and Liberia is now much as it was before the wars.

"The relationship between Sierra Leone and Liberia is courteous," said Emmanuel Wiah. "The free flow of businesses between Liberia and Sierra is still on course.  On a daily basis, as I tell you, most people normally do buy from Sierra Leone and also buy from Liberia."

But some of that cross-border trade continues to be in diamonds, in violation of the U.N.'s 2003 Kimberley Process, which is meant to certify the origin of rough diamonds to assure consumers they are not financing human-rights abuses.

Instead of carrying his stones 100 kilometers to Monrovia, Liberian diamond miner Fallah Varney says there is more money selling to Sierra Leonean diamond agents who come to the border from Freetown, Bo, and Kenema.

"They come from various diamond mining agencies," said Fallah Varney. "They come in search of diamonds in Liberia.  And we sell to them and they get across."

Varney says Liberian border agents warn diamond dealers that the cross-border trade is illegal.  But he sees nothing wrong with it, since he says those officials are easily bribed.

"I do not want to say 'illegal' because the security personnel, especially the customs officers and some immigrations and stuff like that know," he said. "They are aware.  Most of the time we come to them and say, 'Look, this is the business we are getting across.'  And we give them their tip of the stuff."

A local parliamentarian says poor law enforcement in the diamond-mining area has drawn in criminals from across West Africa.

"The people who are stealing the gold and diamonds, plenty of them come from other countries," he said.

He says lawmakers are drafting legislation to better regulate Liberia's diamond industry.

"The people go there with their water pumps," he said. "They go their with their diggers, their shovels.  They are just digging our gold and digging our diamonds.  This government is putting together a small, small law so that the diamond and gold sector can be protected and guarded."

Because Liberia has been unable to attract legitimate foreign investment in the area, the parliamentarian says it is time for the government to create its own company to buy up Liberian diamonds.

"Instead of the diamonds just being taken out like that - no money for the people to develop the country, no money for the government to do anything - the government can organize its own company and go in there, so that money the government will get will be able to help the people," he said.

In temporarily suspending its arms embargo, the U.N. Security Council called for the government in Monrovia to better monitor the flow of diamonds between Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Ivory Coast - all countries still recovering from violence partly funded by conflict minerals.  

Additional reporting by Prince Collins in Liberia.
 

You May Like

Video Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had warned storm could be one of worst in city history More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid