EU Court Upholds Asset Freeze Over ‘Conflict Diamond’ Exports

(CN) – The European General Court on Thursday upheld the asset freeze of two companies involved in the buying and selling of “conflict diamonds” from the Central African Republic.

In March 2013, after the Muslim coalition Seleka deposed the republic’s president and the nation descended into violent chaos, the United Nations set up an international certification scheme for rough diamonds to prevent them from being sold to fund armed conflict.

The republic was suspended from the scheme, known as the Kimberley Process, which meant that all exports of diamonds from the nation were banned.

In 2015, the Council of the European Union froze the assets of two companies – Bureau d’achat de Diamant en Centrafrique, or Badica, and its Belgian sister company Kardiam – after determining the companies had “provided support for armed groups or criminal networks through the illicit exploitation or trade” of diamonds and in the republic.

The companies appealed the asset freeze to the European General Court, which ruled Thursday that EU lawmakers had proven the companies had gotten diamonds from the republic despite the ban. In doing so, the companies had provided material support to armed groups, the Luxembourg-based court ruled.

As for the gold the companies had bought from the region, the court said that did not amount to supporting armed conflict. But that little quibble wasn’t enough to warrant thawing the companies’ assets in the court’s eyes.

The court’s ruling was not made available in English by press time.

Badica and Kardiam have two months to appeal the decision to the European Court of Justice.

Despite U.N. peacekeepers, the Central African Republic was de facto partitioned at the end of 2014 with Muslims occupying the northeast part of the country. In December 2015, Seleka rebels declared their region as the independent Republic of Logone.

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