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General News of Monday, 10 April 2017


Disown Chinese galamseyers - Ashigbey tells China Embassy

Ken Ashigbey, Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group and a member of the Media Coalition against Galamsey, has admonished the Chinese mission in Ghana to dissociate itself from Chinese illegal miners in the country.

Media Coalition against Galamsey has embarked on a campaign to end galamsey (illegal mining) in the country and advised the Chinese authorities to “start quickly distancing themselves from [Chinese] people involved in criminality” instead of calling on government to gag the media.

The China mission in Ghana had expressed disconcertion at the manner in which the West African country was treating Chinese engaged in illegal small-scale mining (galamsey).

The concerns of the China mission follow an onslaught launched by the Akufo-Addo government on galamsey activities.

The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources has given the galamseyers a three-week ultimatum to stop their operations which are destroying water bodies in the country or get flushed out.

However, a letter sent to the ministry by the China mission expressed concerns about “defamatory” reports by the local media against Chinese officials and their government.

"The Chinese side is very concerned about this unhealthy tendency,” the letter said, adding: “We hope the Ghanaian government will pay due attention to this situation, take necessary action to stop such things from happening,” the letter said.

"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the illegal mining issue. The position of the Chinese government on this issue is consistent and clear-cut. The Chinese is firmly opposed to the involvement of Chinese citizens in illegal mining in Ghana and supports the efforts taken by the Ghanaian government to tackle the illegal mining issue within the legal framework.

"We sincerely hope that the Ghanaian government shall take responsibility of guiding the media and requesting them not to publicise such defamatory reports or stories against Chinese leaders, officials and the Chinese government. This will help create a sound environment for our joint efforts to address this issue and the continuous development of our bilateral relations."

But Mr Ashigbey maintains: “Our law says foreigners are not supposed to get into small-scale mining and that is what it ought to be.”

He noted that Ghana was different from China and laws against media in the two countries were different so the Chinesewould have to adapt to the Ghanaian system.

He, however, cautioned the Ghanaian media to desist from publishing libellous materials or passing defamatory comments about Chinese officials.

“We are not in [China] where they have very strict regimes for controlling the media… We are not China where a lot of media people are jailed for what they say,” he stated.

He explained that cartoons are ways in which people express their views, adding that sometimes when a corporal in the police service commits a crime the photo of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) appears in the publication which “is how we operate in our country here”.

He urged the Chinese mission to channel its grievances to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the National Media Commission (NMC) if there is a libellous publication against them.

“Even the state-owned media is insulated from governmental control by the constitution, how much more the private media? It is their right to bring it up but it is for us who also have an interest in this country…to tell them that unfortunately your calls have no legs to stand on,” and rather “distance yourself from people engaged in criminality”.