Gemfields is stepping up efforts to increase transparency and ensure security and human rights are protected at its operations.
The company, which owns the luxury Fabergé jewellery brand, is the world’s biggest coloured gems producer, mining emeralds and rubies in Zambia and Mozambique, announced Monday that it is the only gemstone company to be recognized as a corporate member by Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR).
VPSHR was founded in 2000 for the extractive and energy sectors and is now a globally recognized initiative by governments, companies and NGOs to confront human rights abuses and violations.
In the ethos of a wider ESG movement, VPSHR principles have become the common standard implemented to guide companies on how to conduct their security operations while respecting human rights.
“We are delighted that Gemfields has been acknowledged by the VPSHR members…The VPSHR represents an important space for governments, NGOs and corporates to share and challenge each other on how to improve security and human rights best practice,” Jack Cunningham, Gemfields’ sustainability, policy & risk director said in a media statement.
The news comes a year after Gemfields paid £5.8 million ($7.8m) to community members residing near its Montepuez ruby mine in Mozambique, in a “no admission of liability” move that settled a claim of human rights abuses brought against it by locals.
Leigh Day, the London-based law firm representing a group of 273 Mozambicans, argued in 2018 that security forces employed by the miner had shot, beat and subjected its workers to humiliating treatment.
Gemfields always maintained it was not liable for the alleged incidents, but took the view that the agreed settlement “best balances the interests of the assorted stakeholders” and avoids tainting the company’s relationship with sections of the local community, the company said in a statement at the time.