Illegal mining in Liberia takes a heavy human, as well as environmental and economic tolls with millions of dollars lost in recent years.
For that reason, campaigners have been lobbying against illegal mining—known locally as “point-point sale for food money” to stop, because the practice, which often involves ‘black market,’ was having a negative effect on the country’s economy.
Christian Jallah, Mano River Union (MRU) Resident Representative and Coordinator, Liberia office, acknowledged that lots of illegal diamonds were leaving the country without the approval of the Kimberly Process (KP).
The KP unites administrations, civil societies, and industry in reducing the flow of conflict diamonds -rough diamonds used to finance conflict, etc.
Jallah made the statement in an interview with reporters during the Mono River Union (MRU) Regional Approach to the KP workshop on customs and border security to curb diamond smuggling and the implementation of the KP national action in Monrovia.
The workshop was sponsored by German International Cooperation (GIZ) and EU as a partner with the MRU.
The workshop which lasted from May 9 to May 11, 2018, brought together participants, including law enforcement officers from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Sierra Leone and the host country, Liberia.
Jallah said it is established that there are lots of illicit diamonds that are leaving MRU countries without revenue or impacting their economies.
He indicated that with the Kimberley certification process such diamonds can be tracked during the certification process and their original origins can be identified.
Jallah said the workshop is intended to look at all of KP certification processes and show how far they have gone with the certification and where KP needs to improve.
He said at the workshop participants complained that there are a lot of challenges in locating the total quantities of diamonds that are leaving a particular country, but the MRU is hoping that at the end of the training they can bring a new technology to help diamond inspectors at the borders that will be able to track illegal diamonds that are leaving the counties along with their locations.
Jallah said porous borders make it difficult for the MRU to succeed in the KP certification process.
“Once the governments start to get accounts on those illegal diamonds that are leaving their countries, then they will help strengthen the economy and bring revenue,” Jallah said.
The KP Regional Approach in the MRU (Regional Approach) was established by the KP Certification Scheme in 2013 to support MRU countries Sierra Leone, Guinea, La Côte d’Ivoire and Liberia to meet the challenges of implementing the KP with a regional dimension.
The regional approach aims to improve law enforcement, better secure diamond production and export, secure government revenue and ensure better valuation of mining communities.
In March 2014, representatives of the four MRU countries met in Grand Bassam (Côte d’Ivoire) to set the framework for the regional collaboration around the KP and this led to the development of a regional action plan.
The Ebola outbreak largely delayed the implementation of the KP Regional Approach. The EU and the GIZ entered into a delegated agreement on December 30, 2016, to support the approach.
Since the launch of the KP Regional Approach Activities, the four MRU countries, through their Permanent Secretariat, under the Supervision of the MRU Secretariat engaged in needs assessment which resulted in the development of national action plans.
The needs assessment focused on the capacity of countries to effectively implement the KP and on the functioning of the Customs and Border Services and Law Enforcement Agencies.
The objectives were to hold a meeting with the KP Regional Approach technical team on the progress of activities and discuss National Action Plans that would develop the next step of reporting the findings from the Customs and Borders assessment in the four MRU countries and the capacity-building strategy developed to address identified gaps.