A short while ago, we were approached by a coalition of NGOs hoping to get retail jewelers to speak up on behalf of investigative journalist, Rafael Marques de Morais, whose book Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola, features detailed accounts of torture and human rights abuses in Angola’s diamond sector. We have known Rafael for many years and have highlighted his work in the past.
The major jewelry and diamond companies in the US were approached to make a statement of support. All but two remained silent.
As I told an industry trade publication, “For many in our industry, ethical issues are all about damage control. It’s disappointing that people don’t want to take a proactive stand.”
I have no doubt now that we have taken a stand, both with our initial statement in March and with this joint public letter, other jewelry companies will follow our lead (once their PR department’s tell them it’s a good idea) now that two prominent jewelers have made public statements calling for the charges against Rafael Marques to be dropped and requesting Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos “to order the formation of an independent commission that will fairly and objectively investigate the allegations of human rights abuses committed against artisanal diamond mining communities reported by Rafael Marques.”.
We will continue our efforts to speak up on behalf of Rafael, as well as the countless artisanal diamond miners who have been victims of Angola’s diamond trade. To us, there are many things far more important than trying to protect the image of the global diamond industry.