Amnesty Report on CAR Ignores Antwerp Controls

PassportSizePhoto1842014234Antwerp: Despite the fact an Amnesty International team visited the Antwerp World Diamond Centre, including the Antwerp Diamond Office which supervises all imports and exports of diamonds to and from Antwerp, and was able to witness how the strict controls on imports of rough are conducted in Antwerp, the Antwerp World Diamond Centre cannot but conclude the report contains factual errors in this regard.

More precisely, the report ignores the fact the Antwerp Diamond Office implements a 100% strict control mechanism for each import or export of diamonds, which led to the interception and seizure of two shipments, containing rough diamonds potentially originating from CAR. The very moment these suspicious parcels were presented for import at the Antwerp Diamond Office, they were immediately intercepted and blocked by the experts of the Federal Public Service Economy, within the Diamond Office.

These experts succeeded in intercepting and blocking the shipments because of, on the one hand, a foolproof system of controls through which each and every of shipments is verified on value, weight, classification (HS Code) and documented origin.  Their immense expertise on the other hand, allowed the experts to determine, even in the case of a shipment of mixed origin – which forms the very basis of the Antwerp trade model, through which assortments of goods originating from different mining areas are bought and sold to meet with clients’ requirements – if the parcel contains diamonds that could originate from KP banned areas such as the CAR. The Diamond Office performs a 100% check of all shipments, instead of spot-checks as the report states.

Consequently, the two shipments that were blocked in Antwerp never entered the market, contrary to what the report seems to suggest, a judicial inquiry was initiated and the companies involved lost their license to trade in Antwerp. Moreover, the fact these two shipments were intercepted, was one of the reasons why the UN imposed sanctions on certain entities later on.

In conclusion, the AWDC regrets the comments, summarized in the above statement, which AWDC made on fragments of the draft report sent for revision, were not taken into consideration by Amnesty International in the final report.