Products from Zimbabwe and Democratic Republic of Congo are among those from five nations to be seized by the United States at its borders because they are believed linked to forced-labor violations.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection said in a statement Tuesday it initiated its investigation following complaints from the public and other sources. The allegations led to the issue of a Withhold Release Order for the five products, which include gold from artisanal small mines in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo and diamonds from the Marange Diamond Fields in Zimbabwe. The Marange site has a long history of alleged human rights abuses, from a 2008 massacre of civilians to 2018, when new reports of forced labor and other rights violations emerged.
“A major part of CBP’s mission is facilitating legitimate trade and travel,” said Acting CBP Commissioner Mark Morgan. “CBP’s issuing of these five withhold release orders shows that if we suspect a product is made using forced labor, we’ll take that product off U.S. shelves.”
Because it is illegal to import goods linked to forced labor into the U.S., the CBP has the authority to order their detention but also their release. “Importers have the opportunity to either re-export the detained shipments at any time or to submit information to CBP demonstrating that the goods are not in violation,” the agency said.
Also listed were specific garments from China, rubber gloves from Malaysia and bone-black char from Brazil.
Zimbabwe’s rough diamond production will more than triple to 11 million carats in 2025, according to the nation’s state-owned mining operation.
Output will grow at an average of 21% per year from 3 million carats in 2018, a spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Consolidated Diamond Company (ZCDC) told Rapaport News Monday.
“This growth is anchored on investment of around $400 million across the entire diamond value chain in the next five years,” the spokesperson said.
In addition, the ZCDC named Killiam Ukama, an engineer, as the chairman of the ZCDC’s new board.
The ZCDC produced 1.8 million carats in 2017 from the controversial Marange diamond fields, where security forces killed more than 200 illegal workers in 2008. The company suspended sales for nine months last year as it carried out a restructuring, and resumed tenders in the first quarter of this year.
An anti corruption group alleges it has evidence linking Zimbabwe’s ruling elite to a decade of disappearing diamond wealth. Top security and political leaders steeling and profiting from Zimbabwe’s diamond reserves.
London based Global Witness report published on Monday, accuses Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation spy agency of concealing a stake in Kusena Diamonds in the Marange diamond fields in eastern Zimbabwe.Diamonds produced by the CIO linked company are traded in Dubai and Antwerp two of the world’s leading marketplaces and have funded political repression.
Zimbabwean military, and the government itself with the Companies have concealed their finances and shielded their operations from public scrutiny.
Zimbabwean officials had no immediate comment.