OccupyGhana, a social and political non-partisan pressure group, has urged government to apply the law in fighting illegal mining.
According to the pressure group, stipulated laws can be used to mete out sanctions and punishments for individuals found culpable.
In a statement, the group insisted that, government’s stance in the fight galamsey gives the impression that it is unwilling to follow and apply the law.
Additionally, the group expressed shock over pictures and films in which equipment used in Galamsey operations were seized by security officials.
“While these dramatic optics might have the support of some; we think that it is brazen illegality that will only exacerbate the situation and not help in the fight against galamsey.”
It further recounted the case of Aisha Huang, by intimating that, “it took a protest” to get her charged.
“When Aisha Huang was first arrested, she was charged with some ludicrous, risible and insignificant administrative breaches of immigration regulations.
“We believe that her quiet and hurried deportation by government was to avoid subjecting her to the full rigours of the law. We insist that that unfortunate truncation of the judicial process sounded the death knell to the Galamsey fight.”
Imprisonment of galamsey operators
The pressure group further expounded on the legalities and sanctions inherent in illegal mining. To this end, it called for proper implementation of laws on illegal mining, popularly known as ‘galamsey’.
“The law in the Minerals and Mining Act is clear. There is a fine and imprisonment between 15 and 25 years for each of the following crimes”.
According to the group, this includes buying or selling minerals without a licence is in breach of the law. Additionally, it revealed that contracting a non-Ghanaian to provide mining support services is a culpable offence.
Also, non-Ghanaians who illegally particpate in illegal mining will receive a “fine and imprisonment between 20 and 25 years”. The culprit, it indicated “shall be deported after serving the sentence”.
“This is what should have been applied to Aisha Huang.”
Confiscation of galamsey equipment
OccupyGhana further expounded on the laws and what should become of equipment confiscated from illegal miners.
In the event of a swoop, it suggests that such equipment must “be first seized and kept in police custody”.
“Then, when the person using the equipment for the illegal mining activity is convicted; the court will order the forfeiture of the equipment to the state.
“Then the Minister has 60 days within which to allocate the equipment to a state institution. There is absolutely no legal room for simply torching the equipment. It is illegal and must stop forthwith.”
“If the security agencies make arrests and the law is not applied, it weakens their resolve and says to all that we are not serious about ending this menace. And the judiciary should need no encouragement to try cases with dispatch so that Ghanaians can see results in real time. It cannot be business as usual.
“We have two simple messages for the government – (1) Galamsey is illegal: the fight against it cannot be based on illegality and, (2) If you want to win the fight against Galamsey, APPLY THE LAW”.