MAC/20: Mines and Communities

WACAM Condemns the Attempt by AngloGold Ashanti to Cover Up the Shooting of 'Galamsey' Suspect

Published by MAC on 2005-07-03

WACAM Condemns the Attempt by AngloGold Ashanti to Cover Up the Shooting of 'Galamsey' Suspect

Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) Press Release

3rd July 2005

A news item by the Ghana News Agency (GNA) has confirmed through an interview with Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso, the leader of the medical team that operated on Awudu Mohammed that the 'Galamsey' suspect, sustained the injury through gun shot. This has unraveled the controversy surrounding the cause of the injury sustained by Awudu Mohammed.

Since the incident was put in the public domain, the statement by Anglogold Ashanti signed by Col Steve Oduro-Kwarteng and published in many newspapers vehemently denied that the victim was shot with the explanation that , AngloGold Ashanti security do not possess bullets . The officials of the company were emphatic that Awudu Mohammed sustained the injury from spikes on a security wall when he attempted to escape arrest.

The Obuasi Police boss, Chief Superintendent Kwabena Akuoko Oduro supported the statement of AngloGold Ashanti and was reported to have gone to Radio stations to defend AngloGold Ashanti's story.

The alleged shooting of the 'Galamsey 'suspect lends credence to the statement by Mr Benjamin Annan , the Assemblyman for Sanso , that AngloGold Ashanti officials had informed him that they would shoot 'Galamsey,' suspects on sight.

The attempts by AngloGold Ashanti to concoct stories to cover up the truth in the alleged shooting of the 'Galamsey' suspect, though not surprising, should be condemned in the strongest of terms. What is more disturbing is the role of the Obuasi District Police Command in supporting and defending the story put up by AngloGold Ashanti officials.

Mining communities especially those affected by the operations of the then Ashanti Goldfields Company and now AngloGold Ashanti perceive the Police as adjuncts of the company and this has eroded the confidence of the people in mining communities in the Ghana Police Service. Mining communities have blamed the Police for not protecting their rights as required under the Constitution of Ghana but rather supports the mining companies in forced evictions, shooting and brutalization of 'Galamsey' suspects, shooting of Peaceful demonstrators, denial of the right to embark on peaceful demonstrations, arrest and intimidation of community leaders etc.

The recent shooting of the demonstrators in Prestea and the attempts by the Brong Ahafo Regional Police Commander to deny some people of Kenyase the right to demonstrate against Newmont Ghana Limited are recent cases that re-enforces some of the perceptions of mining communities about the Ghana Police Service. We are aware that some Policemen and women have gone about their duties conscientiously in matters relating to the rights of marginalized people and we commend such Police Officers for their professional competence.

We call on the Inspector General of Police to take up the challenge of educating Police Officers to recognize that the rich and the poor must be treated equally before the law. Indeed that is the cardinal principle underlying the Rule of Law.

The conflicts in mining areas have been exacerbated by the human rights abuses and the denial of the marginalized communities the right to self-expression and to live in dignity.

WACAM commends the team of doctors that worked hard to save the life of the victim. Most importantly, we commend Dr Oheneba Owusu-Danso and Dr K. Turkson of Okomfo Anokye Teaching Hospital for exhibiting such professional competence and commitment to the truth in the face of extreme pressure.

We commend the media especially, 'The Servant', Ghana News Agency, and 'Daily Graphic' for the in-depth investigations into the issue and hope that the media would continue to play its role in advancing the course of democracy and the Rule of Law.

Daniel Owusu-Koranteng
(Executive Director of WACAM)

Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) Condemns the Shooting of Small Scale Miners by AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi Mine

WASSA - 29th June 2005

The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) expresses deep concern about the apparent lawlessness that have become part of the corporate behaviour of some mining companies in Ghana. There is convincing evidence that the then Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) had employed criminal methods of torture, use of Guard dogs and killing of suspects arrested for undertaking small scale mining activities on the company's concession.

The expectation of WACAM was that, AngloGold Ashanti would depart from the use of torture, shooting and the brutalisation of "Galamsey" suspects in the private cells of the company. Unfortunately, the problem seems to be escalating. We wish to recall that one Clement Kofi Baffoh, a 27 year old "Galamsey" suspect was allegedly beaten to death on the 9th of June 2004 by a team of AngloGold Ashanti security and police personnel acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti. All attempts in seeking justice by the relatives of Clement Kofi Baffoh have failed since the Ghana Police Service and the Attorney General's Department have failed to provide the lawyers of Kofi Baffoh's family with the documents relating to his death. A recently launched local newspaper in Obuasi called "The Servant" published in its issue of 29th June 2005, the shooting of Awudu Mohammed, a 24year old "Galamsey" suspect resident in Sanso, near Obuasi by a team of AngloGold security and Police.

According to the newspaper, "The Servant", which carried a picture of Awudu Mohammed as he was handcuffed in hospital bed at the Okomfo Anokye Hospital in Kumasi, the police bosses in Obuasi and AngloGold Ashanti officials claimed that Awudu Mohammed sustained the injury when he attempted to escape arrest from the security team by jumping over a security wall but the spikes on the security wall pierced his stomach to gush out his intestines.

According to the Investigative Journalist, Mr. E. K. Akuoko who investigated the case, Dr. K. Turkson and Dr. Oheneba Danso of Okomfo Anokye Hospital who treated Awudu Mohammed have confirmed that the victim sustained injuries from gunshots. More-over the victim was presented to the hospital officials as an armed robber and was thus handcuffed in bed.

What is even more disturbing is the fact that the alleged shooting of Awudu Mohammed took place a few days after a team of personnel from the security Department of AngloGold Ashanti, Obuasi, led by Captain Yaro had informed Mr. Benjamin Annan, the Assemblyman of Sanso on 16th of June 2005 that the company would shoot "Galamsey" operators found on the concession of AngloGold Ashanti. The policy of shooting "Galamsey" operators on sight indicates that AngloGold Ashanti wants to take the law into its own hands or become a law unto itself. This constitutes an attack on the foundations of the rule of law.

In recent times, the Ghana Police Service and the media have had cause to complain about instant justice and mob justice which violates the constitutional rights of individuals. We wish to remind AngloGold Ashanti and other companies that they are not above the laws of Ghana and they have a responsibility to submit themselves to the judicial processes of the country.

It is on the basis of the criminality of these actions that we condemn the allegations of torture, shooting, killing and detention of "Galamsey" suspects in private cells by some mining companies especially AngloGold Ashanti. We also condemn the alleged connivance of the Obuasi District Police command in concocting a cover up story for this heinous crime with AngloGold Ashanti.

Mining communities have been complaining that the state security agencies like the Military and Police that have to protect the rights of citizens have become willing tools in the hands of mining companies and are used to shoot peaceful demonstrators from mining communities as occurred recently in Prestea.

It is our position that the "Galamsey" problem is triggered by the loss of livelihood of mining communities occasioned by the ceding of indigenous lands to foreign multinational mining companies, thus rendering many youth unemployed.

WACAM calls on government to develop a policy on small-scale mining that would harness the potentials of small-scale mining for employment generation, increased retention of revenues from mining in the national economy and also mitigate its negative impact. The efforts at promoting the interest of foreign multinational mining companies must go with the efforts aimed at supporting indigenous efforts in order to create opportunities for local people to be direct beneficiaries of our God-given natural resources.

WACAM is of the opinion that the scale of human rights abuses that the people in Obuasi area had suffered from the operations of Ashanti Goldfields Company up to the period of AngloGold Ashanti merits a full-scale investigations of such abuses by the Commission for Human Rights and Administration Justice.
It is our hope that this would not be a call in futility and that all agencies interested in good governance would take this call serious.

Daniel Owusu-Koranteng
(Executive Director of WACAM)

WACAM Condena Encubrimiento de Anglogold Ashanti de Agresión con Arma de Fuego de a Minero Furtivo

Asociacón de Comunidades Afecadas pr la Mineríade Wassa (WACAM)


Un artículo de prensa de la Agencia de Noticias de Ghana (GNA) ha confirmado, en una entrevista realizada al Dr. Oheneba Owusu-Danso, líder del equipo médico que trató al minero furtivo (de los denominados "Galamsey") Awudu Mohammed, que su heridas fueron de arma de fuego. Esto ha aclarado definitivamente la controversia sobre las causas de las heridas que sufrió el supuesto "Galamsey".

Desde que el incidente fue puesto en dominio público, una declaración de Anglogold Ashanti firmada por Col Steve Oduro-Kwarteng y publicada en varios medios escritos negó vehementemente que la víctima haya sufrido disparos de arma de fuego, argumentando que la seguridad de la compañía no posee balas. Los funcionarios de la empresa fueron enfáticos al afirmar que Awudu Mohammed fue herido por las púas de un muro de seguridad cuando intentaba escapar del arresto.

El jefe de policía de Obuasi, superintendente Kwabena Akuoko Oduro, apoyó la declaración de AngloGold Ashanti y fue reportado que se dirigió a varias estaciones de radio para convalidar la versión de la compañía.

Las versiones que afirman que el minero furtivo fue baleado, dan crédito a las declaraciones de Benjamin Annan, representante parlamentario de Sanso, quien afirmó que los funcionarios de AngloGold Ashanti le informaron que abrirían fuego contra los mineros ‘Galamsey’ que sean detectados en su territorio.

Los intentos de AngloGold Ashanti de urdir historias para encubrir el hecho de que se disparó un arma de fuego contra el supuesto minero furtivo, si bien no sorprenden, deben ser condenadas en los términos más duros. Lo más indignante es el rol asumido por el Comando Policial del Distrito Obuasi, que apoyó y defendió la versión de los funcionarios de AngloGold Ashanti.

Las comunidades mineras, en particular aquellas afectadas por las operaciones de Ashanti Goldfields (en la actualidad AngloGold Ashanti), perciven que la policía es un mero accesorio de la compañía, y esto ha erosionado la confianza de los pobladores de estas comunidades en el Servicio Policial de Ghana. Las comunidades mineras han acusado a la policía de no proteger sus derechos, tal como requiere la Constitución del país, y en lugar de eso estar al servicio de las compañías mineras participando en desalojos forzados, agresiones con armas de fuego a supuestos ‘Galamsey’, disparar contra manifestantes pacíficos, impedir el ejercicio del derecho a realizar demostraciones pacíficas, arresto e intimidación a líderes comunitarios, etc. Los recientes disparos contra manifestantes en Prestea, y los intentos del Comando Regional de la Policía de Brong Ahafo de negar a pobladores de Kenyase su derecho a manifestarse contra Newmont Ghana Limited, son casos recientes que refuerzan algunas percepciones de comunidades mineras sobre la policía de Ghana.

Reclamamos que el Inspector General de Policía tome el desafío de educar a los oficiales para reconocer que los ricos y los pobres deben ser tratados con igualdad ante la Ley. Ese es justamente el principio cardinal en que se basa la Ley.

Los conflictos en áreas mineras han sido exacerbados por los casos de abuso a los derechos humanos, y porque se niega a las comunidades marginales su derecho a la expresión y a una vida digna.

WACAM reconoce al equipo de médicos que trabajó para salvar la vida de la víctima. Más aún, reconoce al los doctores Oheneba Owusu-Danso y K. Turkson, del Hospital Escuela Okomfo Anokye, por demostrar su exelencia profesional y compromiso con la verdad en momentos de mucha presión.

WACAM reconoce a los medios de comunicación, en particular a The Servant, Ghana News Agency y Daily Graphic, por la investigación periodística realizada sobre este caso, y espera que los medios cumplan su importante rol en la democratización y el estado de derecho.

Daniel Owusu-Koranteng
Director Ejecutivo de WACAM

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