According to the World Diamond Council, an estimated US$13 billion worth of rough diamonds are produced per year, 65% of which come from Africa, and this value continues to grow particularly around Valentine’s Day when diamonds are in peak demand. While buying jewelry for your loved one is meant to be an expression of your love, much of these precious minerals may be mined under abusive conditions for workers and may even finance conflict.
The 2010 U.S. Department of Labor’s List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor cites seven countries where child labor continues to occur in diamond production, all of which are located in Africa, with a particular concentration on Sierra Leone and Angola. In these regions, where children comprise nearly 30 percent of the workforce, workers’ rights are often not respected and children may be forced to toil under hazardous conditions in the informal “artisanal” mining sector. It has also been alleged that the mining industry in places like the Democratic Republic of the Congo fuels conflict as armed groups feud over control of strategic mineral zones and illicit trade routes.
As one of the largest jewelry corporations in the world, Signet Diamonds, whose brands include Kay and Jared Diamonds, has a unique opportunity to pave the way for truly ethical diamond sourcing. Despite the pervasiveness of these labor and human rights violations, Signet Diamonds has few policies in place to ensure its diamonds are not mined by forced or child labor, and little information in general about where its minerals are sourced.
It’s time to hold Signet Diamonds accountable and ask that it take stronger action to stop forced child labor and worker exploitation in the diamond industry.
- Consumer and Trade Media
- Group Company Secretary, Signet Jewelers Limited
- Investor Relations, Signet Jewelers Limited
- Financial PR, ICR
As one of the leading retailers of fine jewelry in the United States, you have the opportunity to set the bar high for the diamond industry by working to eliminate child and forced labor in your supply chain and joining in the fight against worker exploitation. Right now in several African countries from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Sierra Leone, thousands of men, women, and children, some as young as ten years old, are forced to toil in hazardous conditions without pay to meet strict quotas.
As a customer of Signet Diamonds, it is imperative to me that Signet adheres to an ethical code of sourcing and you ensure that the precious minerals you source do not contribute to conflict and worker and human rights abuses. Therefore, I ask that Signet take the following action steps:
-Increase the transparency of the Signet Diamonds supply chain by publishing a semi-annual report of where Signet is sourcing its diamonds and what protections are in place to identify and remediate child or forced labor in the mining industry.
-Take steps beyond the Kimberly Process and institute a system of regular monitoring to legitimately ensure that diamonds and minerals do not finance conflict.
-Require that all steps of the supply chain, including mines, follow Signet’s Code of Conduct which prohibits forced and child labor.
Please take this opportunity to become a leader in the fight against child and forced labor in the diamond industry, rather than benefiting from these serious labor rights violations.
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