MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Ghana: urgent call for implementation of human rights and mining report

Published by MAC on 2008-09-16

National Coalition on Mining calls for immediate implementation of CHRAJ report

Public Agenda

10th September 2008

http://www.ghanaweb.com/public_agenda/article.php?ID=11591

The National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) and victims of mining related human rights abuses across the country have called for the urgent implementation of the recommendations of the recently launched report on the state of Human Rights in Mining Communities in Ghana.

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Joe Ghartey launched the report last week Thursday in Accra prepared by the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ). The report revealed numerous cases of human rights violations on people living in mining communities.

According to NCOM, the urgent implementation would help stop violence in mining communities and protect the rights of all parties affected or involved in mining.

At a press conference in Accra, Mr. Edward Akuoko who read the statement on behalf of the Coalition said in 2006 the NCOM launched a national campaign to stop violence and human rights abuses in mining areas.

He indicated that as part of the campaign the Coalition submitted a complaint to CHRAJ calling for investigation into allegations of human rights abuses by mining companies, the police and the military against people living in communities affected by mining.

"The campaign was launched following an increase in alleged cases of human rights abuses perpetrated against members of local communities and small scale artisanal miners or "galamseyers" in mining areas," he added.

Mr. Akuoko said that in response to the complaints submitted by individual victims of alleged human rights abuses, the Commission conducted what it described as a systematic investigation into alleged abuses of the social and economic rights of communities affected by mining.

According to him CHRAJ's findings revealed cases of inadequate compensation for destroyed properties , unacceptable alternative livelihood projects ,absence of compensation for destroyed properties , unacceptable alternative livelihood projects , absence of effective channels of communication , excesses against galamsey operators , health problems attributed to mining , reckless spillage of cyanide and unfulfilled promises of employment.

The spokesperson said the findings of the report was a vindication of several positions long held by the Coalition and several other advocacy organizations regarding the destructive legacy of mining and the limited degree of its contribution to the national economy.

"The National Coalition and its allies have consistently argued that despite its potential as a catalyst for social and economic development, mining over the years has tended to worsen the already social marginalization of local communities, small scale miners and other social groups such as women, the elderly, the disabled and children," he added.

In his view these groups suffer disproportionately from mining related dislocations, women in particular have been victims of direct displacement from their productive economic activities, gender discrimination and inequality from the little benefits accruing from mining.

He went on to say that notwithstanding the rhetoric of corporate social responsibility projects , transnational mining companies and state regulatory institutions directly and indirectly supervise massive destruction of the environment , excessive deprivation of the national economy and citizens from accessing the full benefits of mineral resources.

In addition, indiscriminate dislocation and displacement of local communities from their natural resources particularly land , water and cultural heritage, increased violence and human rights abuses of people living in communities affected by mining including small-scale miners.

The Coalition commended the Commission for the investigations and found the report a wake -up call not only to the major stakeholders but also all institutions of justice to their statutory responsibility in the protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens.

According to Mr. Akuoko, the individuals who have suffered various degrees of injuries and pain are hoping to receive justice and therefore applauded the decision of the Commission to commence investigation into the individual complains submitted to it.

"We hope the findings of the systematic investigation would inspire government and friends of justice to resource the Commission to carry out its statutory duty of investigations into these complaints," he added.

He pledged the Coalition's support to the Commission and all institutions in ensuring the implementation of the recommendations of the report.

The Head of Environment at the Third World Network (TWN) Mr. Abdulai Daramani and a member of the coalition said the Coalition has mandated its members to monitor the activities of stakeholders who were accused of violations so that they stop.

He indicated that, as part of the environmental recommendations, specific guidelines should be drawn on mine pits that should be filled and those that can be left empty since currently the law is unclear about it.

Author: Selorm Amevor

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