As early as 2000, several States validated the creation of a Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS), endorsed by Resolution 55/56 of the United Nations General Assembly, the purpose of which was to bar the way to the entry of illicit conflict diamonds. Following Decree No. 2011/3666/PM of 2nd November 2011 on the creation, organization and functioning of the SCPK, Cameroon in June 2012, became a participant in the Kimberley Process (KP). However, there is a risk of illegal trade in diamonds in the State of Cameroon from the Central African Republic (CAR), with which it shares porous borders and is plagued by armed conflict. It is on the strength of this reality that civil society organizations are mobilizing to prevent the invasion of the official circuit by conflict diamonds still called “blood diamonds”. This led to the production of the “Independent Monitoring Report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Cameroon”.
The independent monitoring report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Cameroon is within the framework of the Independent Monitoring of the Kimberley Process in Cameroon (SIPROKIM) project funded by the Active Citizenship Support Programme (PROCIVIS). This project aims to contribute to the improvement of the governance of the diamond sector and the implementation of the Kimberley Process certification scheme in Cameroon. Under the coordination of the Network for the Fight against Hunger (RELUFA), this report is a production of several civil society organizations, namely: the Center for Environmental Protection and Defense of Community Interests (CEPEDIC), the Diocesan Center for Justice and Peace of the Archdiocese of Bertoua (CDJP-Bertoua), the Support Center for the Governance of Natural Resources (CENAGREN). From the independent monitoring report of the Kimberley Process certification scheme, a set of observations emerges, the first of which refers to the difficulties for artisanal miners in obtaining operator and collector cards. They are due to ignorance of procedures, lack of financial resources, remoteness of mining sites from departmental capitals where maps are produced, or the shortage of available maps. The second observation concerns the low traceability of transactions between the various actors in the production and marketing chain of rough diamonds. Added to this are the shortcomings in the government’s oversight of the KP, including the lack of coordination between the Permanent National Secretariat of the Kimberley Process (SNPPK), the Directorate General of Customs (DGD), the law enforcement agencies and the airport security unit of Douala airport in this case. This activity presents social challenges such as child labour in mining sites, the lack of social security for artisan miners, etc. It also presents environmental challenges with behaviors adopted by minors likely to harm the environment. These include, for example, the destruction of grazing areas, the obstruction or diversion of riverbeds, etc., … Mining is also the site of violence of all kinds on the various mining sites. This violence by certain elements of the security forces, local authorities, site managers and rebels is linked to the demand for shares in production, the control of income and the limits of the land exploited by the activity.
Also, the independent monitoring report of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme in Cameroon provides qualitative observations. These are: the registration rate of actors (craftsmen and collectors) which is very low; almost all sites that do not have an authorization as required by the mining code; the large number of Central Africans and persons of other nationalities engaged in mining activities reserved for Cameroonians under the law. It should also be mentioned that production records on the sites are nonexistent. Consequently, production is not recorded, which is likely to call into question the reliability of the production statistics and the traceability of the diamond from its point of origin. Other observations made in this report are: the low literacy level of artisanal miners, which makes traceability documents difficult for craftsmen to use; artisanal miners needing to be equipped with both knowledge and inputs to ensure profitable diamond mining, assuming that Cameroon’s soil is actually rich in diamond resources; the absence of a diamond purchasing office in the Eastern region, which calls into question the destination of the stones mined in this region; the majority of diamond buyers working in the informal sector; buyers sourcing from both Cameroon and CAR in a context of porous borders. In addition, it appears that the visits of KP agents to the sites are not regular; surveillance mechanisms at the border and airports are flawed in a few points and can be exploited by smugglers.
Considering all these observations, the report makes recommendations that consist of carrying out activities to facilitate and encourage the registration of the various actors (artisanas and collectors) and the obtaining of authorizations; revise the legislative provisions to allow other nationalities to engage in artisanal mining; equip artisan miners both in terms of knowledge and materials. In addition, artisans should be made aware of the environmental challenges and their impacts, as well as the importance of education; provide surveillance officers with adequate means to ensure regular visits to the actors in the production chain, marketing (artisans, collectors, purchasing office) and state-of-theart equipment at borders and airports; and building the capacity of border and airport surveillance officers, including law enforcement, customs and civil aviation officials, to better understand diamond mining and Kimberley Process issues.