An employee sorts rough diamonds at the Namibian diamond processing and valuation center. Bloomberg

JOHANNESBURG – The US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has issued a Withhold Release Order for artisanal rough cut diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange diamond fields due to evidence of forced labour. US law prohibits importation of goods made with forced labour.

The order was one of five other Withhold Release Orders issued by the CBP on grounds of forced labour with another order issued against gold mined in artisanal small mines (ASM) in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), also mined as a result of forced labour, CBP said in a Tuesday statement.

“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 US shelves.”

Under US law, it is illegal to import goods into the US that are made wholly or in part by forced labour, which includes convict labour, indentured labour, and forced or indentured child labuor.

When sufficient information is available, CBP may detain goods believed to have been produced with forced labour by issuing a WRO.

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, added the CBP statement.

- African News Agency (ANA)