Fresno, California (WiredPRNews.com) — President George W. Bush signed a legislation this week that will tighten the existing law on the trading of gems from Burma. In a report released in Bangkok, the Human Rights Watch honored the law that will bar U.S. jewelry retailers and gem dealers from importing jade and rubies from Burma due to its labor and human rights abuse.
Arvind Ganesan, the Director of the New York-based human rights group said, “The international trade in Burmese gems helps finance repression and puts millions into the pockets of Burma’s abusive rulers.”
As a part of the economic approval on the Burmese military regime, the U.S. government outlawed private investment within the country in the early 90’s and restricted the import of Burmese goods in 2003. Nevertheless, despite the 2003 ban on trade, a loophole allowed the buying of gems, which originate in Burma and were polished or cut in third world countries like Thailand or India. The new legislation locks in that loophole.
According to Human Rights Watch, valued stones like jade and rubies are the third most precious export items of Burma, generated almost $647 million between 2007-2008 for the country.
Canada and the European Union have already banned the import on Burmese gems. The alterations in the U.S. law would specify that retailers maintain accounts documenting the origin of jade and rubies in order to show that the stones are not from Burma. The law will go into effect sixty days after Bush signs it.
The appalling record of the regime, beginning with a massacre in 1988 ending the pro-democracy disputes, has given it a reclusive status in the Western democracies that have increasingly slapped economic sanctions upon the country in the past couple of decades.
Wired Legal Reporter