|5:08 PM EDT||
Ed Royce, R-CA 39th
Mr. ROYCE. Mr. Chairman, these Sierra Leone diamonds that we are talking about and the conflict that is raging there are only a small part of Africa's production. However, the American public increasingly associates the devastation and the mayhem occurring in Sierra Leone with the sale of legitimately produced diamonds.
That makes it very difficult for other countries in Africa, like Botswana and Namibia and South Africa, to use the proceeds from the sale of their diamonds in order to produce an education for their population, clean water and health care.
I think the United States Congress must help ensure that the legitimate diamond industries in these countries are not adversely affected by the justifiable outrage over the anarchy and atrocities linked with conflict diamonds. And it was the message that the Subcommittee on African Affairs received from the African government and human rights groups at our hearing on May 9 on this issue.
Now we have a special responsibility because Americans purchase more than 60 percent of these diamonds. I think my colleagues have heard the testimony from my colleagues about the mayhem that is occurring today in Sierra Leone. We must do all we can to bring an end to the tragic conflict in diamonds coming out of Sierra Leone and coming out of Liberia. Because, frankly, the proceeds from the sale of those diamonds are being used in order to arm the Revolutionary United Front, the RUF, which has
decapitated or struck the limbs off some 20,000 women and children to date.
If my colleagues go into Freetown, they will see countless numbers of maimed children on the streets as a result of this campaign of terror. And if we ask how did Fodoy Sankoh receive the financing to do this, it is from the sale of these conflict diamonds, it is from the fact that these diamonds have also gone over the border into Liberia where his ally, Charles Taylor, has also used them in order to obtain the funds for this activity.
I think we must applaud the recent efforts of the international diamond industry to prevent rebel groups from using illicitly obtained diamonds to finance senseless wars. It has instituted [Page: H6658]
new controls that will make it more difficult for conflict diamonds to be sold. But vigilance is necessary to prevent unscrupulous dealers from avoiding these new, tougher regulations.
I just want to thank the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. WOLF) and thank the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) for their efforts. I would hope that more Members of this body would join them in their efforts to ensure the vigilance of these regulations and to ensure that we can try to impose an embargo on Liberia and on Sierra Leone in order to prevent this senseless war from continuing.