CEPIL, Wacam engage stakeholders on how to address human rights abuses in mining sector

Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), a not-for-profit organisation (NPO), has organised a stakeholder’s advocacy meeting on a policy brief that offer alternative solutions to policy gaps that have contributed to failures in Ghana’s mining sector in Goaso in the Ahafo Region.

The meeting was a collaboration with Wacam, a human rights and environmental mining advocacy NGO, in partnership with Oxfam in Ghana under the Fair for All project, which highlights key challenges confronting the cocoa-mining sector value chain and how to address them.

It was attended by about forty (40) participants, comprising representatives of regulatory agencies, Goaso Traditional Council (GTC) and people from communities affected by mining—Yamfo and Kenyasi.

The ‘Policy Brief: Addressing gaps and human rights violations in Ghana’s mining sector’ throws light on human rights violations in the mining sector value chain and how to address them, drawing lessons and best practices from relevant jurisdictions with similar context and challenges.

Furthermore, the document points out that though Ghana has many legislations, policies and programmes all geared towards maximsing the benefits of its mineral resources, they have largely failed to address the challenges plaguing the sector.

“Policy gaps usually have multiple possible causes and potential solutions that vary in place and time according to local context. Understanding the context will reveal the dynamics that could aid or hinder effective policy implementation.

“Unfortunately, in developing countries, public policy formulation is informed by political party manifestos that mostly consider the peculiar interest of the political party philosophy of the government in power and how to win the votes of the electorate, thereby making most public policies fail at birth,” the policy brief underscores.

Launching the policy brief, the Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, who was assisted by the Executive Director of CEPIL, Lawyer Augustine Niber, expressed the hope that the document ‘would not gather dust’ but help in the improvement and management of Ghana’ mineral resources.

She said the policy brief was based on experiences in the mining sector, thereby lamenting the many human rights violations that are saddling the sector.

She indicated that the document offers practical and useful suggestions for policy makers towards addressing the challenges that have bedevilled the mining sector.

In this regard, Mrs Owusu-Koranteng lapped praises on CEPIL for coming with such a document that would be useful in addressing gaps and human rights violations in the mining space.

Earlier, in a welcome address, the Executive Director of CEPIL, Lawyer Augustine Niber, said although mining play crucial role in Ghana’s development, it was critical that policies in the space inure to the benefit of the mining communities and the country as a whole.

He emphasised that his outfit would continue to advocate responsible mining and also ensure that the country benefits largely from its exploitation.

At the forum, there were two presentations: one on environmental and human rights issues in the mining sector; and two, on the policy brief by Dr Samuel Obiri of the Centre for Environmental Impact Analysis (CEIA) and Lawyer Alhaji Iddrisu of CEPIL.

In his presentation, Dr Samuel Obiri, who is the Executive Director of CEIA, bemoaned that “Ghana is endowed with rich mineral resources, yet we are still poor.”

He stated that there is evidence on a large scale that mining activities in the country carry with them serious social, economic, political, cultural consequences.

This, he stressed, is captured in a 2006 report by the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

According to the CHRAJ report, 22 out of 28 mining communities had polluted rivers, adding that the first casualty of mining is water.

He attributed the pollution of water bodies as a result of mining to what he described as Acid Mine Drainage (AMD), which is basically a reaction between the elemental sulphur within the soil or pyrites rocks with oxygen and water.

For his part, Lawyer Alhassan Iddrisu shared with the participants key gaps and policy options in the policy brief.

On such challenge, he mentioned, was illegal mining activities popularly called galamsey.

According to him, the “uncontrolled and unregulated galamsey” has become a major threat to the environment, as it destroys the environment, water bodies, air pollution, farmlands and cocoa production.

As a way of combating this menace, the policy brief recommended an independent neutral body whose work is devoid of political influence to deal with the canker.

Lawyer Iddrisu also stressed the need for our newly-discovered green minerals (such as lithium, hydrogen, bauxite, manganese, and silica sand) which are critical to be efficiently managed to ensure they key role in the transition journey.”