Amnesty International executive director Larry Cox issued the following statement Monday regarding legislation on conflict minerals that was included in the Wall Street financial reform bill scheduled to be signed into law by President Obama this week:
“Amnesty International welcomes the passage of the important conflict minerals legislation. This bill represents a substantial human rights victory to stop armed groups from using proceeds from the trade in minerals to fuel conflict and commit human rights abuses in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and elsewhere.
“The legislation is a key first step towards disrupting the supply chain that connects minerals used in consumer electronics like cell phones to the violence, insecurity and abuses that have claimed millions of lives in the eastern part of the DRC.
“Companies under U.S. jurisdiction will now have to verify that the minerals used in the products they make or sell do not directly finance armed conflict or result in abuses of human rights. This legislation will greatly advance the goals of regulating and stemming the flow of conflict minerals, and limit the ability of armed groups to benefit from conflict minerals and perpetuate the conflict.
“But the challenge of guaranteeing respect for human rights in the DRC is enormous and much more work is left to be done to ensure that armed groups are held responsible for massacres, rape, looting and other attacks on civilians.
“As the international peacekeeping force in the DRC is being reconfigured, as human rights defenders continue to face harassment and assassination, as women and girls endure rape, sexual slavery and mutilation, as civilians face unrelenting threats to their dignity, the international community must take collective responsibility for ending the epidemic of brutality and violence in the DRC.”
Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.8 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide.