Washington, DC – Congressman Howard L. Berman, chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, today issued the following statement praising the adoption of a bipartisan provision contained in H.R. 4173, the Restoring American Financial Stability Act of 2010, that aims to restrict the illegal trade in “conflict minerals” that enrich and empower armed groups in the Congo and leave innocent populations vulnerable to rape and other forms of violence.
“The mechanism created by this bill provides a vital tool for alleviating the pain and suffering experienced by the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Our Committee worked hard for months with our House and Senate colleagues to see that this provision was included and strengthened in the Wall Street reform bill.
"The people of the Congo have for far too long been pawns in a bloody struggle between armed groups, who fuel their violent campaigns of terror with proceeds from illicit mining. Today’s legislative action is a critical first step in ending this threat to the stability of central Africa and a victory in the battle to combat injustice in one of the poorest countries in the world.”
The conflict in Congo, the world’s most lethal since World War II, has left more than five million dead and thousands raped or maimed. The provision will require that companies doing business in Congo and adjoining countries disclose the origin of certain minerals (including cassiterite, wolframite, and tantalum) in their products to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and that companies conduct regular audits to ensure that they are not contributing directly or indirectly to the armed conflict in the region.