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Angola: UN panel recommends measures to deal with 'sanctions busters'

Angola: UN panel recommends measures to deal with 'sanctions busters'

A United Nations panel dealing with sanctions on Angolan rebels has recommended tightening regulations governing the activities of arms brokers and establishing an international register of companies involved in "sanctions-busting."

The UN Monitoring Mechanism on Angola Sanctions against the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) said in a document released today that sanctions continue to play an important part in efforts to resolve the Angolan conflict. With no fixed arms supply lines and diminishing revenue from diamonds, UNITA's military capacity has been significantly reduced, according to the panel.

The monitors warn, however, that despite serious military setbacks, "it should not be taken for granted that all possibilities for UNITA rearmament have been exhausted."

The document, which is an addendum to the panel's final report submitted last December, provides an overview of an investigation of companies that are accused of busting the UN sanctions aimed at reducing UNITA's capacity to wage war.

Although UNITA diamond trading has been driven deeper underground by the sanctions, the document notes, there are still major weaknesses in the system to control diamond trading, in part because of the many available routes that traders can use.

"UNITA gems will find a market as long as illicit diamonds can be traded and until those involved in this trade are exposed and penalized," the panel warns. It describes UNITA as "still very active, conducting guerrilla warfare, attacking mostly civilian targets, destroying infrastructure, killing innocent people and laying landmines." Noting that it needs more time to complete its mandated tasks, the panel says that leaving its work unfinished "would send a very bad signal."

In carrying out its investigations, the Mechanism visited a number of countries in the region and Europe, including Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Tanzania, the Sudan, Belgium, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and France.