MAC: 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)

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