Media Coalition advocates stiffer punishment for illegal miners

BY: Daily Graphic
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey — Convener of Media Coalition
Mr Kenneth Ashigbey — Convener of Media Coalition

The Media Coalition Against Galamsey (MCAG) has called for stiffer punishment for people who are found guilty by the law courts for carrying out illegal mining activities in the country.

The coalition also underscored the need for the prosecution of the financiers and the ultimate beneficiaries of illegal mining which was destroying and depleting water sources, the forest cover and farmlands.

“Our courts need to incorporate deterrence in applying the law to people found guilty. The prosecution of the financiers and the ultimate beneficiaries of the illegality is long overdue,” it stated.

Name and shame

In a statement issued in Accra yesterday, the coalition said: “We note with concern that among the chain of stakeholders, the weakest link so far has been the justice delivery system: from investigators to prosecutors and the judiciary.

“The media are expected to focus on investigative work to expose these financiers, name and shame them, while aiding with prosecution.”

It said various stakeholders, including the government and some traditional leaders, had declared their commitment to the fight against illegal mining in Ghana.


It said the declaration was reached at eight town-hall meetings, stakeholder engagements in various districts in eight galamsey endemic regions and at press conferences.

“We unanimously agree that it is time to restore our water bodies, forests, farmlands, among others, and sanitise the entire mining environment,” it said.

The coalition acknowledged that there had been a significant reduction in reported cases of galamsey activities, an appreciable reduction in turbidity levels in some river bodies and the active involvement of other stakeholders in the fight against illegal mining.

That, it stated, offered those affected by mining activities some voice and ownership of the campaign.

“Along the line, we have come across different opinions on how to attain sustainable mining. There is, however, near unanimity that we cannot allow the damage and degradation to resume after the lifting of the ban on small-scale mining,” it said.

Operations Vanguard strategic

It stated that Operation Vanguard was a strategic intervention that needed more support to continue its operations in a collaborative manner, with extended time and in accordance with the rule of law.

“The reinforcement being provided by the Ghana Army in the form of surveillance on water bodies is timely assistance to the campaign and should be maintained.

“Operation Vanguard also needs to be supported with the necessary human capacity and logistics, including night vision equipment, drones and other technology, to aid the fight,” it said.

Decentralisation

According to the coalition, there was the need for the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be decentralised and equipped to carry out regular inspections, as well as enforcement of laws and regulations.

“In addition, they have to expedite action on transforming and regularising “galamseyers” into small-scale mining licences, as they get Parliament to ratify all the small-scale mining licences under a certificate of urgency.

“The participation of foreigners in small-scale mining activities, using all manner of cover-ups, must be ruled out in the regulations to stem the illegality,” it stated.

It pointed out that the involvement of Chinese in the illegality most especially had been empirically established with the numbers arrested and that should be confronted diplomatically.

“Equally important, the Multi-sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) should be launched and executed immediately, with all stakeholders, especially the media, given copies, so that they can track progress.

“This is a critical national cause and it is the hope and expectation of the MCAG that we should not sacrifice this noble cause on the altar of any partisan or sectoral parochial interest,” it added.

The coalition called on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the cause to ensure sustainable mining activities that would do away with the illegality that was destroying the environment.