MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Ghanaians present complaints of human rights abuses

Published by MAC on 2007-04-24


Ghanaians present complaints of human rights abuses

24th April 2007

Ghana's National Coalition on Mining (NCOM), set up to reveal and counter the fierce repression of
communities by mining companies and their "security" forces, has presented a detailed roll call of alleged abuses to the government.

Specifically indicted are the operations of AngloGold Ashanti and Bogoso Gold.


Memorandum

To: THE HON MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
From: NATIONAL COALITION ON MINING (NCOM)
Date: WEDNESDAY MARCH 28TH, 2007

Re: COMPLAINTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES INVOLVING THE MILITARY

CONFIDENTIAL
1.0 Introduction

We refer to our meeting with you in your good offices on November 15th, 2006 on the subject matter of human rights abuses against people living in communities affected by mining by the police, the Military and the private security of mining companies. At that meeting you requested the Coalition to submit complaint that specifically details alleged cases of human rights abuses involving the military for further action.

In response to this request the National Coalition on Mining is pleased to submit herewith a complaint that details the particulars of the complaint and the actions required of your good offices.

2.0 Particulars of complaint

In recent years, there has been an increase in alleged cases of violence and human rights abuses perpetrated against people living in communities affected by mining projects by the police, the military and private security of mining companies. Communities affected by this growing pattern of mining related human rights abuses involving the military include Prestea in the Wassa West District, and Akote in the Bibiani-Anhiawso-Bekwai District, in Western Region; Obuasi in Obuasi Municipal Assembly and Bonteso in Amansie West District in Ashanti Region; and Ntotroso in Asutifi District in Brong Ahafo region.

The alleged human rights abuses we are complaining of include:
a. Violent, illegal arrest and detention of community members
b. Torture of persons illegally arrested and detained
c. Assault and battery (sometimes involving firearms and other deadly weapons of youth accused of involvement in illegal mining or other trespass on mine property);
d. Interference (often violent and again involving firearms) with citizens’ constitutional right to publicly protest against activities of mining companies that affect them negatively;
e. Harassment of critics of mining company practices;

3.0 Instances of mining-related alleged human rights abuses involving the Military

We cite for illustrative purposes instances of mining related alleged human rights abuses involving the military which are either matters of public record or which our members have investigated and can assist your good office to investigate.

a. On or about June 6, 2006 the youth of Ntotroso in the Asutifi District of Brong Ahafo Region went on a peaceful demonstration against the perceived failure of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited to keep promises of employment it had made to them. The afternoon after the demonstration, three (3) vehicles (one Tata bus, one Pick-up truck, and one Mitsubishi Pajero) full of soldiers arrived at Ntotroso. On arrival the soldiers, numbering about 60, commenced an indiscriminate assault on the people using canes and the butt of their guns. They went from house to house, brutalising and forcing them out of their dwelling places. They finally “kidnapped” 13 people and detained them in police cells at Sunyani for three (3) days. They released them without charge. Victims of these brutalities include:
• Alhaji Aziz Saani, Ntotroso Zongo
• Nana Akwasi Amakyi III, former Chief of Ntotroso Town, Asutifi District, Brong Ahafo
• Nana Kyei, Chief Priest, Ntotroso Town, Asutifi District, Brong Ahafo
• Ruth Ntim, Ntotroso Town, Asutifi District, Brong Ahafo.

b. On or about February 2nd, 2006, soldiers shot at five (5) farmers in Teberebie in the Wassa West District of Western Region for allegedly using access route around the rock waste dump belonging to Anglogold-Ashanti Iduapriem Mine Limited. The five (5) farmers and their contact details are:
• Kwaku Kyei-received gunshot
• Kennedy Owusu-received gunshot
• Kwaku Ofori-received gunshot
• Cudjoe Agboshie-beaten
• Anthony Baidoo
All the five victims can be contacted through c/o Teberebie J.S.S., P. O. Box 262, Tarkwa or Amelia Amoateng Contact number 024-386 2995 or through Mr. Jerry Mensah-Pa contact number 024-316 4704. In fact Jerry Mensah-Pa, who is a journalist, was also beaten when he went to cover the incident.

c. On or about July 13th, 2005 the military allegedly opened fire on demonstrators in Prestea. They shot and wounded seven (7) people who were protesting against the adverse effects of the operations of Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL) on their community, in respect of land, health and water resources.
The names and contact details of some of the victims are:
• Godfred Anyima-who received gunshot wounds can be contacted on 024-351 5324
• Joseph Otoo-House Number D136, Bola Site, Prestea.
• Ahmed Salu-House Number DH1 Cemetery Road, Prestea, can be contacted on 024-492 7093
• Joseph Yankey a 13 year old boy received gunshot wounds. The father is John Yankey of House Number E 104, Bola Site, Prestea.

d. On or about September 29th, 2005, there was a combined swoop by the military, the police and Anglogold-Ashanti Obuasi Mine security in Sanso. The swoop team arrested Afua Frimpongmaa a 70 year old woman for her alleged involvement in illegal mining activities (galamsey). Afua Frimpongmaa was put in the custody of Anglogold-Ashanti Obuasi Mine security for about 8 hours. She can be contacted on 024-327 1975.

e. On or about December 29th, 2001, soldiers shot one Yaw Mensah a 20 year old male farmer in the arm for allegedly trespassing on the property of Bogoso Gold Limited (BGL). Yaw Mensah lives and works in Dumase a small village in the Wassa West District of Western region.

f. Security contractors of mining companies assisted by armed police and soldiers often conduct “operations” ostensibly to arrest alleged illegal small scale mining operators in the concessions of large-scale mining companies. These “operations” tend to be violent and bloody invasions of communities resulting in gross human rights violations. Such “operations” have taken place in communities affected by mining in particular Sanso and Binsere near Obuasi where it is becoming an annual event.

4.0 Specific Appeal to the Hon. Minister

We humbly request your good offices in the spirit of good governance and in defence of human dignity and community rights to:

a. Investigate the pattern of human rights abuses involving the military against people living in communities affected by mining.
b. Take appropriate steps to address the abuses as well as the concerns raised by the victims.
c. Issue directives regarding the constitutional responsibility of the Ghana Armed Forces to uphold the rights of citizens in relation to the issues under investigation.
d. Issue directives regarding the permissibility of deployment of personnel of the Ghana Armed Forces in domestic law enforcement operations; in particular communities affected by mining, (other than as provided for in Articles 31 and 32 of the 1992 Constitution) including;
• The circumstances in which domestic military deployment may be permitted;
• Public officials with authority to authorise military deployment;
• The procedures which duly authorised public officials must follow; and
• The rules which military officers participating in such operations must follow.

e. Such additional directives or advice as your good office would find relevant for stopping and preventing further violence in communities affected by mining, and also seeking full redress for the victims who have already suffered some type of violence.
Endorsed by the following members of National Coalition on Mining (NCOM)

TWN-Africa is secretariat of NCOM. For further information please, contact Tel:+233-21-500419/503669; Fax: +233-21-511188; Email: environment@twnafrica.org

Endorsed by:
1. Dr. Dominic Ayinie
Executive Director Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL)
Accra

2. Dr. Rose Mensah Kuttin
Director
ABANTU for Development
Accra.

3. Kyeretwie Opoku
Coordinator
Civic Response
Accra

4. Alhassan Adam
Coordinator
Forest Watch-Ghana
Accra

5. Dr. Steve Manteaw
Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC)
Accra

6. Mr. Donkris Mevuta
Executive Director
Friends of the Nation
Takoradi

7. Mr. Richard Adjei-Poku
Livelihood and Environment-Ghana (LEG)
Kenyasi

8. Mr. Eric Amoako-Atta
Sefwi Concerned Citizens Association
Chirano

9. Mr. Kojo Oduro Prempeh
Sefwi Concerned Citizens Association
Chirano

10. Madam Jeannette Quarcoopore
Media Foundation for West Africa
Accra

11. Mr. Mike Anane
League of Environmental Journalist LEJ)/Food First International Action Network (FIAN)
Accra

12. Mr. Edward K. Akuoko
Community Rights Foundation
Obuasi

13. Mr. Korsa- Brown
Executive Director
Centre for Environmental Law and Development (CELD)

14. Dr. Yakubu Zakaria
Foundation for Grassroots Initiatives in Africa (GrassrootsAfrica)
Accra

15. Mr. John Adza
Executive Director
The African Challenge
Accra

16. Mr. Abdulai Darimani
Environment Programme Officer
Third World Network-Africa
Accra

17. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng
Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM)
Tarkwa/Accra.

OTHER MEMBERS WHO ARE YET TO SIGN ARE:
18. Friends of the Earth-Ghana
Accra.

19. The Development Institute
Accra


20. Green Earth Organization
Accra.

21. Crises Actions Solutions (CASOLS).
Takarodi.

 

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