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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Group suing UK over Congo conflict minerals

Lobby group Global Witness said it was taking the British government to court for failing to refer companies trading in Congo ‘conflict minerals’ to the U.N. sanctions committee.
The move comes amid global efforts to halt the lucrative trade in rebel-controlled minerals like tin, gold, and coltan in the central African state, where some 5 million people have died since the start of a 1998-2003 civil war.

“British companies have supported armed groups by purchasing minerals from areas under their control in the DRC. Despite this, the UK government has never put any of them forward for sanctions,” Global Witness said in a release.

The British embassy in Kinshasa told Reuters that London expected British companies in Congo to “follow high standards of due diligence” and would “continue to take reports that they are not doing so seriously.”

U.N. resolutions call for travel bans and asset freezes on those supporting illegal armed groups in Congo and member states should report individuals and entities in breach of resolutions adopted by the world body.

The United States adopted legislation last week requiring US companies involved in Congo to certify they are not buying conflict minerals and a U.N. panel of experts is also developing new guidelines to ensure minerals can be traced.

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