There’s legal justification for burning galamsey excavators - Abu Jinapor in Parliament

BY: Nana Konadu Agyeman

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr Samuel A. Jinapor, has justified the government's decision to burn excavators and other mining equipment that are being used for illegal small-scale mining in red zones - waterbodies and forest reserves - in Ghana.

He said decommissioning and/or de-mobilising of equipment, including Changfang, were necessary measures being taken to protect and safeguard the country's national environment for posterity in accordance with the sacred duty bestowed on the government by the framers of the Constitution under Article 36(9).

“I will respectfully but forcefully contend that there is ample legal justification for the conduct of the government in decommissioning or demobilisation of excavators and Changfang illegally used to destroy our environment,” he stated.

Question

Mr Jinapor made the justification in Parliament yesterday (July 30) when he answered a question by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) Member of Parliament (MP) for North Tongu, Mr Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, who asked the minister the legal and policy justification for the burning of excavators in the ongoing fight against illegal small-scale mining (galamsey).

Legal justification

Responding, Mr Jinapor said when a country was confronted with an extraordinary problem, extraordinary measures ought to be deployed.

He said the use of heavy machinery such as excavators for illegal mining in, and/or, near forest reserves and water bodies was an extraordinary problem which required the use of extraordinary measures to deal with.

Giving a legal justification to back the state's action, the minister cited Article 36(9) of the Constitution, which formed part of “The Directive Principles of State Policy”, which stated that “The State shall take appropriate measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity and shall seek co-operation with other states and bodies for purposes of protecting the wider international environment for mankind.”

He also quoted Article 41(k), under the same Chapter Six of the Constitution, which provided that “The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment.”
“Mr Speaker, the combined effect of these two articles of the Constitution is that citizens who seek the protection of the law .