MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) Condemns the Shooting of Small Scale Min

Published by MAC on 2005-06-29

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)

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