Why Jewelers of America Members Should Steer Clear of Lev Leviev’s Businesses
Jewelers of America (JA) is a member of the Council for Responsible Jewellery Practices (CRJP). All CRJP members have committed themselves to a set of laudable principles to contribute to sustainable development.
The businesses of Israeli diamantier Lev Leviev are not members of JA or the CRJP and have recently been renounced by Oxfam International and UNICEF due to their construction of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land in the West Bank in violation of international law. Companies owned by Leviev’s partner in settlement construction, Shaya Boymelgreen, are now being sued for war crimes in Canada.
JA members should not do business with Leviev’s companies because there is strong evidence that Leviev’s companies may violate the following principles of the CRJP:
PRINCIPLE - We will adhere to working hours and remuneration legislation, or, where no such legal requirements have been established by law, the prevailing local industry standards: This month Lev Leviev Diamonds in Namibia fired over 200 striking workers. For polishing diamonds, some of these workers earn less than $2/day, the threshold set for poverty worldwide, and approximately 50% of the prevailing average Namibian minimum wage for all major sectors.
PRINCIPLE - We will not use corporal punishment under any circumstances and will prohibit the use of degrading treatment, harassment, abuse, coercion or intimidation in any form: New York Magazine reported in 2007 that in Angola, "A security company contracted by Leviev was accused this year by a local human-rights monitor of participating in practices of 'humiliation, whipping, torture, sexual abuse, and, in some cases, assassinations.' "
PRINCIPLE- We will support the development of communities where we operate, contributing to their social and economic welfare: According to a 2007 report by Partnership Africa Canada, in Angola's diamond mining areas, where Leviev's companies have been major players since 1998, there are "few schools, little treated drinking water, roads unrepaired since colonial days, and little public investment geared to fixing these problems. One of the richest areas in Angola also appears to be one of the most backward."
PRINCIPLE - We will not engage in bribery, and/or corruption: Kicking off "the GIA bribery scandal" in 2005, Vivid Collection, which was partly owned by Leviev, was sued for allegedly bribing GIA staff to upgrade their ratings of diamonds.
PRINCIPLE - We believe in and will respect the fundamental human rights and the dignity of the individual, according to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights: In addition to human rights violations in Angola and Namibia, Leviev's companies Africa-Israel and Leader are building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian farmland in the villages of Jayyous and Bil'in, and in other locations. Israeli settlement construction is illegal under international law. It also denies Palestinians access to their land, increases dependency on food aid, and reduces income, severely limiting children's right to education.
PRINCIPLE - We will recognize and respect the rights of indigenous peoples and the value of their traditional, cultural and social heritage: Leviev's companies violate the rights of the indigenous people of Angola and Palestine.