The Open Statement from Tiffany & Co and Leber Jeweler Inc. to put an end to blood diamonds and to work toward a global diamond supply chain free from human rights abuses.

 

Photos:  Tiffany & Co Advertising and the Ma Su Su Engagement Ring from Leber Jeweler Inc.   

On April 22/2015 Tiffany & Co. and Leber Jeweller signed a letter to Angola’s President José Eduardo dos Santos urging him to drop all charges against Rafael Marques de Morais, an Angolan journalist and human rights activist who wrote the book ‘Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola’ published by Tinta da China Edições, as well as to order the formation of an independent commission to investigate the allegations of human rights abuses committed against artisanal diamond mining communities reported by the Angolan Journalist:

Open statement from Tiffany & Co and Leber Jewellery Inc. calling for charges to be dropped against journalist Rafael Marques de Morais in Angola (April 22/2015)

“We, the undersigned companies, are concerned over reports of human rights abuses in the diamond sector in Angola, and over efforts by the Angolan Government to criminally prosecute the award-winning journalist and human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais on charges of libel against a number of Angolan generals.

Mr. Marques currently faces charges of criminal defamation relating to his book, Blood Diamonds: Corruption and Torture in Angola. The book alleges hundreds of cases of torture and killings of Angolan villagers involving Angolan military officials and private security companies contracted by mining firms, in the course of diamond mining operations. Generals in the Angolan army are major shareholders of some diamond firms implicated in the book. Mr. Marques faces nine years in prison and damages equivalent to US$1.2 million on criminal defamation charges relating to the book.

Over 30 human rights, press freedom, and anti-corruption NGOs worldwide including Amnesty International, Committee to Protect Journalists, Freedom House, and Transparency International have expressed grave concerns over irregularities in the proceedings against him to date, and that Mr. Marques will not receive a fair trial in Angola.

As jewelry firms, we wish to work toward a global diamond supply chain free from human rights abuses.

We respectfully call on the Angolan Government to drop all charges against Rafael Marques.

Furthermore, we request the Presidency 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.”[i]

According to The Guardian when the trial began in March, the Angolan journalist had faced 24 charges that could have resulted in a nine-year prison sentence and a fine of $1.2 million on criminal defamation charges relating to the publishing of his book.[ii]  Those charges were dropped, but Rafael Marques de Morais was accused of the crime of slander and sentenced to a six month suspended jail term. He was also obliged by the Court to “withdraw the book from the market, including on the internet, and not to republish or translate it”.       

Tiffany & Co and Leber Jeweler Inc. state that they will continue to fight for a global diamond supply chain free from human rights abuses.

 

[i] This open statement is available at the website of the International Service of Human Rights: http://www.ishr.ch/sites/default/files/article/files/open_statement_by_jewellers_re_rafael_marques_-_22_apr_2015.pdf

[ii] The Guardian,  http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/may/28/angolan-suspended-jail-blood-diamonds-rafael-marques-de-morais