Mr. Speaker, there are a couple of things I want to raise in terms of Bill C-14, the blood diamonds bill.
I want to talk about how terrible it really is. The ugliest part of the blood diamonds conflict is that children have been conscripted by the rebels. They are then forced to commit atrocities against their own people. The children are often addicted to drugs by rebels or placed in compromising positions to spare their own lives, such as killing family members or amputation, which is a common approach used to force one's will upon the oppressed youth.
Sierra Leone has the highest rate of amputations in the world. Part of the problem is that thumbprints have been used as identification for the illiterate in the country's elections. Rebels use amputation as a draconian method of assuring that a portion of the population cannot cast votes.
The social dynamics in Sierra Leone have changed tremendously. It used to be the hub of west Africa, featuring the first university of the region. It was a leader in other cultural and social trends. It also has great wealth and great riches and should be the wealthiest country in Africa, perhaps even the wealthiest in the world on a per capita basis.
To go along with this it also has the third deepest and largest natural harbour in the world. The harbour has been used by many nations during armed conflicts. The British used it during the Falklands war.
What we have to recognize and not underestimate is the role that blood diamonds have played in terms of the development of terrorism and other acts. The western world has a vested interest in ensuring that this does not perpetuate itself.
For instance, in the 1980s Libya used training camps for terrorists to destabilize governments in west Africa. The problem started in 1990 in Liberia and immediately there was an upheaval in Sierra Leone beginning in 1991. Last year it was alleged that al-Qaeda had purchased diamonds from Sierra Leone's RUF rebels to conceal their assets after September 11 but before the crackdown on their funds. We do know that when the discussions on the Kimberley process began in 2000, they were much accelerated once the events of September 11, 2001 unfolded.
That is the crux of the matter. We need to ensure that we have a diamond trade in the world where legitimate diamonds are the way that people will choose, not through coercion, not through enforcement, but because there is a natural marketplace that will be a natural incentive for people to use. That requires more than what is in Bill C-14 and more than what is in the Kimberley process. What it requires is an internationally supervised diamond exchange that will be sourced or located in all of the areas where there are conflict or blood diamonds.
That concludes my remarks on Bill C-14.