Victory! Rafael Marques is Free!

RafaelMOur friend, a human rights activist facing ten years in prison and $1.2 million in fines for speaking out on behalf of artisanal diamond miners and their families, walked out of court a free man today. Along with a coalition of NGOs including Amnesty International, two jewelers spoke out in support of Rafael while the entire diamond and jewelry industry remained largely silent, despite the diligent reporting on his case by some of the best journalists in the US jewelry trade journals.

He is allowed to continue to monitor the situation in Angola’s diamond fields, and the generals agreed to ensure the human rights situation  is improved. Which in the end, is all he really wanted.

This one counts in the “victory” column. I strongly suspect that if individuals hadn’t spoken up on his behalf, the results may have been very, very different.