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Sierra Leone: Positive Impact of UN Ban on

BBC / Concord Times
July 16, 2000

The United Nations Security Council's ban on the sale of diamonds not certified by the government had, even before it came into effect, impacted positively on economy of the country.

Mines Minister, Mohamed Swarray Deen, told Concord Times' in an exclusive interview at the weekend that export of diamonds has been encouraging since Western powers began the process of putting a ban on the sale of "blood diamonds".

He said soon as news broke out about the ban, diamond exporters, who had been hoarding their diamonds in anticipation of price increase, "started to export". His words: "So in June 2000 alone, we exported very nearly 2m. When you compare that to the total of 1.5m for the whole of 1999 then we are making progress."

The minister described the ban on "blood diamonds" as another route to bring the war to an end, as it will deny the RUF the opportunity to make money from diamonds and buy weapons. "If they don't have the weapons to fight we believe that will eventually lead to the end of the war," he reasoned About the fear that the Angolan situation where a similar ban failed may replay here, Minister Deen said, "we have noticed the areas in which the failure emanated (in Angola) and we think we will work very hard to avoid those areas, correct mistakes and then make our own workable."

Signatories to the Certificate of Origin and Authority will include the valuer of the diamond, a representative from customs and the minister himself. "Even if someone wants to defraud the government, it would not be possible. We are under the search-light of the International Community. The UN has appointed an expert team of five countries to monitor the ban. Anybody, minister or what you are that is caught culpable by this ban will be dealt with severely," he warned.

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