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Government denies dealing in conflict diamonds

Country Map - Gambia IRIN
The Gambia has denied allegations in a recent United Nations report that says its territory is a route for trafficking in conflict diamonds aiding rebel wars in Sierra Leone and Angola. However, in a statement quoted on Wednesday by the French news agency, AFP, the Gambian Department of State for Foreign Affairs acknowledged that “a lot of private Gambian citizens” had been involved in the informal trading in diamonds from Sierra Leone and Angola. These activities predate the country’s independence in 1965, it added. “Therefore, while it is likely that diamonds may be transiting through Gambia to other European Union destinations, the government of [The] Gambia has neither condoned nor involved itself in such transactions and consequently does not derive any revenue from this trade, either through taxes or otherwise,” the statement said. The report of the UN panel of experts on trade in conflict diamonds, released on 20 December 2000, said 90 percent of so-called Gambian diamonds came from Sierra Leone with the aim of either avoiding payment of taxes or avoiding detection as “conflict diamonds”. The panel added that it never received a response from Gambian authorities despite repeated requests for official information on the country’s import and export of diamonds. Quoting sources which said “The Gambia has become a ‘mini-Antwerp’ “, the panel said 449,000 carats of diamond worth US $78.3 million was imported from the country into Belgium in 1998, dropping to 82,000 carats worth US $17.6 million between January and August 2000. In addition to Liberia, described as a primary conduit for the illegal diamond sales by Sierra Leone rebels, the panel mentioned Burkina Faso and The Gambia as the other favoured transit routes.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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