By Maxwell Nkansah
Pressure group, occupy Ghana has called on government to desist from the illegality it is perpetuating through its current mode of tackling illegal mining in the country.
According to the group, there are clear laws enshrined in the constitution laying down sanctions and punishments for people engaged in the illegal act, thus, government should enforce those laws.
The comment comes in reaction to photos and videos circulating in the media showing military personnel setting mining equipment and excavators ablaze on site.
Occupy Ghana says that act is an illegality and government should desist from it immediately.
It said, “Occupy Ghana is shocked to see pictures and films in which equipment allegedly being used in Galamsey operations and apparently seized by security officials, have been set on fire. While this dramatic optics might have the support of some, we think that it is brazen illegality that will only exacerbate the situation and not help in the fight against galamsey.”
It stated that the use of such guerilla tactics in the fight against galamsey only undermines the rule of law and gives way for further breaches.
“When Aisha Huang was first arrested, she was charged with some ludicrous, risible and insignificant administrative breaches of immigration regulations. It took a protest and a petition by Occupy Ghana on 16th May 2017 for her to be charged with the proper offences under the Minerals and Mining Act, which, as we will show, provides for serious punishment for illegal mining.
According to them they believe that her quiet and hurried deportation by government was to avoid subjecting her to the full rigors of the law. We insist that that unfortunate truncation of the judicial process sounded the death knell to the Galamsey fight. It added that, “the law in the Minerals and Mining Act is clear. There is a fine and imprisonment between 15 and 25 years for each of the following crimes: buying or selling minerals without a license or authority; mining in breach of the law; abetting any breach of the mining law; contracting a non-Ghanaian to provide mining support services; abetting the breach of the mining laws by a foreigner; fabricating or manufacturing floating platforms or other equipment to be used for mining in our water bodies; and providing an excavator for an illegal mining operation.
The Act further provides that a non-Ghanaian who illegally mines or abets illegal mining attracts a large fine and imprisonment between 20 and 25 years, and shall be deported AFTER serving the sentence. This is what should have been applied to Aisha Huang.
It further explained that the law clearly states what should become of equipment confiscated from illegal miners in the event of a swoop.
The legal provision that equipment used in any of these offences is required to be first seized and kept in police custody. Then, when the person using the equipment for the illegal mining activity is convicted, the court will order the forfeiture of the equipment the state.
Then the Minister has 60 days within which to allocate the equipment to a state institution. There is absolutely no legal room for simply torching the equipment. It is illegal and must stop forthwith.
Occupy Ghana says should this illegality continue to be perpetrated by state apparatus; all efforts to end illegal mining in the country will not achieve anything. “If the security agencies make arrests and the law is not applied, it weakens their resolve and says to all that we are not serious about ending this menace. And the judiciary should need no encouragement to try cases with dispatch so that Ghanaians can see results in real time. It cannot be business as usual, APPLY THE LAW…” it concluded