Ghana: WACAM condemns demolishing of James Sarpong's village by AngloGold Ashanti
The people of Teberebie near Tarkwa have many complaints against AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine. Some of the complaints include allegations of pollution of rivers, conflicts around the dumping of rock waste on community farms and lands, using the security agencies to shoot residents, payment of low compensation, non payment of compensation, loss of community lands, loss of livelihood and forced evictions among others. The Rock Waste dump of the AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine established in Teberebie had generated many conflicts.
On 2nd February 2006, the company employed the services of the Military who shot some of the farmers who were compelled to use a short route around the Rock Waste dump to their farms because the Rock Waste dump had blocked access to their farms and increased the distance to their farms. The Military acting on behalf of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine also molested some of the residents of Teberebie including Nana Nuako, the then Krontihene, a prominent Chief of Teberebie who normally deputised for the Chief in the absence of the substantive chief of the town.
Mr Anthony Baidoo who was among the farmers who used a short route around the Rock Waste dump to his farm ,was shot by the military and was admitted at the 37 Military Hospital in Accra for about 9 months. Anthony Baidoo has become incapacitated and cannot carry out farming activities.
Mr James Sarpong whose village and farms have been affected by the Rock waste dump of AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine is among the Teberebie Concerned Farmers Association who have instituted legal action at the High Court in Tarkwa to demand the prompt payment of fair and adequate compensation in accordance with the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006, Act 703.
On 19th of June 2009, AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine after failing to use many intimidating strategies to throw Mr James Sarpong out of his village to gain access for the expansion of the Rock Waste dump, went to a High Court in Sekondi/Takoradi to seek an order to evict Mr James Sarpong from his village which was granted by the High Court presided over by Justice Anthony Oppong.
On June 25, 2009, the company with the help of security agencies demolished Mr James Sarpong's village in his absence and took away all his properties to an unknown destination. He has been denied the use of his personal belongings to date.
WACAM describes the court order given by the High Court in Takoradi for the demolishing of James Sarpong's village as a flawed judgement. The judgement ignored the legal requirement of compensation payment in cases of compulsory acquisition by the state as a precondition for a mineral holder to have access to the land or properties of an owner/ lawful occupier to undertake mining operations.
The High Court Judge erred by not acting in accordance with the tenets of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Minerals and Mining Act,2006, Act 703 regarding compensation payments relating to compulsory acquisition of land/properties for mining operations.
Mr James Sarpong who used to be a successful Farmer with an 8-acre Oil palm plantation and also cultivates pineapples, Plantain, Cassava, Maize and rears farm animals on subsistence basis is now living on the support of WACAM and other community members.
WACAM condemns the demolishing of James Sarpong's village as an inhuman act which has rendered him homeless and very poor.
The Judgement in the James Sarpong's case brings to fore the importance of raising the awareness of Judges on the human rights violations perpetrated against mining communities by the mining companies. The Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) has documented many of such human rights violations in its report on the "State of Human Rights situation in the mining communities".
The CHRAJ report on Human Rights violations in mining communities indicts AngloGold Ashanti and other mining companies for perpetrating many Human Rights abuses against mining communities. The CHRAJ report confirms that AngloGold Ashanti operated a private detention facility at its Obuasi mine in addition to serious human rights abuses in mining communities including brutalisation and shooting of suspects.
We call on the Chief Justice to run educational programmes for Judges on the human rights challenges in the mining industry to ensure the protection of the rights of people affected by the operations of multinational mining companies as enshrined in the 1992 Constitution of Ghana and the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006(Act 703) to avoid situations where our legal system would be used to strengthen the impunity of multinational mining companies in the violation of the rights of marginalised people in the mining communities.
Executive Director of WACAM)
29th July 2009