Two weeks ago, we reported on Zimbabwe’s abusive diamond mines with forced child labor and brutal violence and torture of local villagers by soldiers.
Now the Zimbabwean government has announced plans to withdraw soldiers “in phases” from the diamond mines due to pressure from human rights groups.
In addition to forced labor, many Zimbabweans desperately in need of work flocked to the mines, only to face violence. About 200 people were killed within three weeks of the army’s occupation.
It remains to be seen, however, if indeed the demilitarization will occur. The BBC reported in April that President Mugabe and his close allies are profitting from the sale of illegal diamonds, even though soldiers were sent to supposedly stop illegal trade.
Currently a team from the Kimberly Process, the group which certifies diamonds, is in Zimbabwe investigating the abuses. Human Rights Watch claims that if diamonds were legally regulated, Zimbabwe could earn approximately $200 million per month, a much-needed boost to the nation’s collapsed economy. This past February the government had to redenominate the Zimbabwean dollar (ZWD) so that one trillion old ZWD is equal to one new ZWD.