What do Naomi Campbell and former Liberian President Charles Taylor have in common? Blood diamonds. Supermodel rockstar Naomi Campbell may be sporting pricey jewels purportedly given to her by former President Taylor, mined by children and slaves who have been taken — many times against their will — and forced to search small diamonds that will make their captors rich.
She has been subpoenaed by the International Criminal Court in the Hague to testify in the trial against Taylor, who faces 11 charges of war crimes, including allegations of rape, murder, enslavement, and use (and abuse) of child soldiers in his brutal and deadly campaign in Sierra Leone, where blood diamonds, also known as conflict diamonds, were allegedly used to to fund his war effort. And as her date in court approaches, Campbell has been noticeably hostile toward accusations that she accepted a "huge diamond" as a gift from Taylor. She has reportedly stormed out of meetings and denies any connection to the former president, though witnesses (including Mia Farrow) openly refute Campbell's claims of innocence.
But just one day before she was scheduled to appear in court — and after the prosecution asked to hear testimony of the model accepting the lavish gems from the former president, despite resting its case in February 2009 — Campbell's request to delay her testimony has been granted, and she will be appearing in court at The Hague on August 5, rather than July 29, when she was originally supposed to appear. So I have to wonder, is protecting young children from the evils of war lords, murder and forced labor not a priority for Ms. Campbell? Is there some summer beach extravaganza that she simply can't miss? Is it really possible that Naomi Campbell, though perhaps inadvertently, supported Taylor's use of forced labor and terror?
Since being subpoenaed, Campbell has been reluctant to come forward, does not want to take any part in Taylor's trial, and even backtracked on previous statements about accepting a diamond from him. Why wouldn't she want to come forward, if only to protect her reputation, never mind the thousands of adults and children forced to toil day after day in diamond mines for nothing? For all the work that celebrities have done to raise awareness and bring attention to these issues, Naomi Campbell's sheer indifference seems to be setting us one step back.