Thursday, August 5, 2010

Campbell testimony shines light on blood diamonds and the importance of international justice

Press Release

Source: Global Witness

The role of natural resources in funding conflict will be highlighted by the testimony of supermodel Naomi Campbell at the trial of former warlord and President of Liberia Charles Taylor in the Hague tomorrow (August 5), said campaign group Global Witness. Taylor is charged with war crimes committed in Sierra Leone including murder, rape and use of child soldiers, but has yet to face justice for crimes committed in neighbouring Liberia. The event offers a valuable reminder of the importance of pursuing justice for the victims of war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Campbell has been called to testify by the prosecution, having allegedly accepted a diamond as a gift from Taylor in 1997. There is no suggestion that Campbell knew the possible origin of the diamond. Global Witness was among the first to expose how the warlord Taylor used funds from the sales of illegal diamonds and timber to pay for his brutal campaign in Sierra Leone and Liberia, which saw hundreds of thousands killed and many more assaulted, raped, displaced and tortured.

“Ms Campbell's testimony reminds us of the damage that can be done by power-hungry individuals who illegally exploit their country's natural resource wealth to wage campaigns of violence and brutality against civilians. The Taylor trial is an important moment in the history of international justice, when the survivors of his regime may finally see some reparation,” said Oliver Courtney, Global Witness spokesperson.

Global Witness investigations into civil wars in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia first uncovered the role of diamonds in funding conflict, and the organisation was co-nominated for the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize. Its campaigning triggered a concerted international effort to address the issue, resulting in the founding of the government-led Kimberley Process (KP) rough diamond certification scheme in 2003. This international system brings together national governments, civil society and the diamond industry in an attempt to eradicate blood diamonds from the international trade.

Ms Campbell's testimony is timely because it draws fresh attention to the problems which still plague the international diamond trade, and the weaknesses they have exposed in the functioning of the Kimberley Process. Three years ago, one of the largest diamond finds in history was uncovered in eastern Zimbabwe’s Marange area. This triggered a diamond rush by destitute citizens, swiftly followed by a savage government crackdown, as Zimbabwe’s military-political elite sought to gain control of the country’s new-found diamond wealth.

Once again, diamond wealth is propping up a system of violence, abuse and illicit activity with horrendous consequences for a civilian population that should be benefitting from its country’s natural resources. Global Witness has repeatedly called for the Kimberley Process to take decisive action on the case of Zimbabwe – but so far the KP has not shown the political will necessary to address the crisis in the country’s diamond sector seriously.

“Global Witness first highlighted the scourge of blood diamonds 12 years ago, and yet the trade is still funding violence and abuse,” said Courtney. “This is a damning indictment of the promises made by KP member governments and the diamond industry to stamp out blood diamonds once and for all.”

Contacts:

The Hague: Oliver Courtney, +447815 731889  ocourtney@globalwitness.org
London: Elly Harrowell, +44 207 492 5888 +44 7703 108 401 or Annie Dunnebacke, +44 207 492 5897, +44 7912 517127 adunnebacke@globalwitness.org

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Everyone is a genius

Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. – A Einstein

Drawing the line in Liberia

Crimes sponsored, committed, or masterminded by handful of individuals cannot be blamed upon an entire nationality. In this case, Liberians! The need for post-war justice is a step toward lasting peace, stability and prosperity for Liberia. Liberia needs a war crimes tribunal or some credible legal forum that is capable of dealing with atrocities perpetrated against defenseless men, women and children during the country's brutal war. Without justice, peace shall remain elusive and investment in Liberia will not produce the intended results. - Bernard Gbayee Goah



Men with unhealthy characters should not champion any noble cause

They pretend to advocate the cause of the people when their deeds in the dark mirror nothing else but EVIL!!
When evil and corrupt men try to champion a cause that is so noble … such cause, how noble it may be, becomes meaningless in the eyes of the people - Bernard Gbayee Goah.

If Liberia must move forward ...

If Liberia must move forward in order to claim its place as a civilized nation amongst world community of nations, come 2017 elections, Liberians must critically review the events of the past with honesty and objectivity. They must make a new commitment to seek lasting solutions. The track records of those who are presenting themselves as candidates for the position of "President of the Republic of Liberia" must be well examined. Liberians must be fair to themselves because results from the 2011 elections will determine the future of Liberia’s unborn generations to come - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's greatest problem!

While it is true that an individual may be held responsible for corruption and mismanagement of funds in government, the lack of proper system to work with may as well impede the process of ethical, managerial, and financial accountability - Bernard Gbayee Goah

What do I think should be done?

The situation in Liberia is Compound Complex and cannot be fixed unless the entire system of government is reinvented.
Liberia needs a workable but uncompromising system that will make the country an asylum free from abuse, and other forms of corruption.
Any attempt to institute the system mentioned above in the absence of rule of law is meaningless, and more detrimental to Liberia as a whole - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia's Natural Resources
Besides land water and few other resources, most of Liberia’s dependable natural resources are not infinite, they are finite and therefore can be depleted.
Liberia’s gold, diamond, and other natural resources will not always be an available source of revenue generation for its people and its government. The need to invent a system in government that focuses on an alternative income generation method cannot be over emphasized at this point - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Liberia needs a proper system
If Liberians refuse to erect a proper system in place that promotes the minimization of corruption and mismanagement of public funds by government institutions, and individuals, there will come a time when the value of the entire country will be seen as a large valueless land suited on the west coast of Africa with some polluted bodies of waters and nothing else. To have no system in place in any country is to have no respect for rule of law. To have no respect for rule of law is to believe in lawlessness. And where there is lawlessness, there is always corruption - Bernard Gbayee Goah

Solving problems in the absence of war talks

As political instability continues to increase in Africa, it has become abundantly clear that military intervention as a primary remedy to peace is not a durable solution. Such intervention only increases insecurity and massive economic hardship. An existing example which could be a valuable lesson for Liberia is Great Britain, and the US war on terror for the purpose of global security. The use of arms whether in peace keeping, occupation, or invasion as a primary means of solving problem has yield only little results. Military intervention by any country as the only solution to problem solving will result into massive military spending, economic hardship, more fear, and animosity as well as increase insecurity. The alternative is learning how to solve problems in the absence of war talks. The objective of such alternative must be to provide real sustainable human security which cannot be achieved through military arm intervention, or aggression. In order to achieve results that will make the peaceful coexistence of all mankind possible, there must be a common ground for the stories of all sides to be heard. I believe there are always three sides to every story: Their side of the story, Our side of the story, and The truthBernard Gbayee Goah

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