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General News of Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Source: ghananewsagency.org

‘Weak justice system is a bane to galamsey fight’ - MCAG

The Media Coalition Against Galamsey (MCAG) has identified the justice delivery system as the weakest link to the fight against illegal small-scale mining, also known as galamsey.

It said from investigators to prosecutors to the Judiciary had not been helpful and urged the courts to incorporate deterrence in applying the law to people found guilty.

A statement issued by the Coalition, and copied to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Monday, said the prosecution of galamsey financiers and the ultimate beneficiaries of the illegality was long overdue.

It, therefore, urged the media to focus on investigative work that would expose those financiers, name and shame them while aiding with prosecution.

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

“We call on all well-meaning Ghanaians to support the course to ensure sustainable mining activities and do away with the illegality that is destroying our environment,” the statement said.

It said galamsey had become the test for competence in the management of the expectations of Ghanaians and a “trojan horse” for governments in the past four decades.

The statement called for the immediate launch and execution of the Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP), with all stakeholders, especially the media to track its progress.

It said there was the need for the Minerals Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency to be decentralised and equipped to carry out regular inspections as well as enforce the laws and regulations.

In addition, the regulatory bodies should expedite action on transforming and regularising “galamseyers” into small scale mining licensed groups as they get Parliament to ratify all the small scale mining licenses under a Certificate of Urgency.

The fight against galamsey required shared and collective efforts of the entire citizenry, the statement said, adding that suggestions from stakeholders must be considered for implementation to ensure sustainability of the mining sector.

These include the need for the Operation Vanguard to continue its operations in a collaborative manner with extended time in accordance with the rule of law, and the reinforcement from the Army in the form of surveillance on water bodies.

They should be supported with necessary human capacity and logistics including night vision equipment, drones and other technology to aid the fight.

The Coalition noted that since its inception over a year ago, it had engaged in eight town-hall meetings, media conferences and stakeholder engagements in galamsey endemic districts and regions, meeting various stakeholders including government and some traditional leaders, who declared their commitment to the fight.

It said it unanimously agreed that it was time to restore the water bodies, forests and farmlands to sanitise the entire mining industry.

The Coalition said there had been a significant reduction in cases of galamsey activities and an appreciable reduction in turbidity levels in some river bodies.

During the period of the campaign, it became evident that there was participation of foreigners, especially Chinese, in small-scale mining using all manner of cover-ups.