Blood Diamonds And Torture Camps
Discovered in Zimbabwe
(Annissa Haddadi) – A torture camp allegedly run by Zimbabwe's security forces has been discovered by BBC Panorama, the news agency said.
An investigation led by the Panorama team discovered that the government's forces are running a torture camp in one of the country's richest diamond region.
The team says they have been in direct contact with people who had been in these camps and suffered severe beatings and sexual assault and made to work in extremely dangerous conditions.
Security forces were also accused of randomly setting dogs on the people who are held captive, while subjecting them to whippings.
"It is a place of torture where sometimes miners are unable to walk on account of the beatings," the report quoted a victim, who was released from the main camp in February, as saying.
"It is near an area known as Zengeni near Marange, said to be one of the world's most significant diamond fields. The camp is about one mile from the main Mbada mine that the EU wants to approve exports from," the report said, adding that the company that runs the mine was headed by a personal friend of President Robert Mugabe.
A second camp was said to be located in nearby Muchena.
The controversial Marange diamond fields are among the most significant known sources of the precious stones in the world.
Witnesses told the BBC that the camps had now been operating for at least three years, and that people held captive there are kept in an outdoor enclosure fenced-off by razor wire.
Marange diamonds were banned in 2009 by the Kimberley Process (KP), an international certification system to regulate trade in rough diamonds, however in June the company announced that the export ban on diamonds from two Marange mines had been lifted.
According to Reuters, the ban was lifted after industry regulators insisted the mines had met the minimum conditions requested.
The EU which had at the time refused to accept the decision has recently been pushing for the partial lifting of the trade ban on diamonds from two mines in the area, on the condition that the situation continues to be closely monitored, the BBC reported.
However fears have been raised as the 'torture camp' is said to be located about one mile from the main Mbada mine that the EU wants to approve exports from according to the BBC.