Wacam and CEPIL Train Youth and Women in Paralegal Skills as Part of EU-BRACE Project

As part of the BRACE project, Wacam, in collaboration with Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL), has organised a 3-day workshop on paralegal skills and mining regulations, empowering youth and women in extractive communities.

The European Union (EU)-funded Building Resilient and Active Communities in Extractive Landscapes in Ghana (BRACE) project, implemented by A Rocha Ghana, Nature and Development Foundation (NDF), and Wacam, aims to promote human rights, transparency, and accountability in Ghana's mining sector.

The paralegal training, held in Kumasi, Ashanti Region, brought together about 60 participants from the extractive communities in Eastern, Ashanti, Ahafo, Western and Western North Regions, covering topics such as paralegal work, mining laws, and compensation and resettlement processes.

Facilitated by the Executive Director of CEPIL, Lawyer Augustine Niber, the training equipped participants with the legal knowledge and skills to address injustice and abuse, promote empowerment, and build capacity in the extractive sector.

Mr. Niber explained that paralegals play a crucial role in providing legal assistance to communities, emphasising that they must have basic knowledge of substantive law and procedures involved in enforcing human rights.

He also highlighted the importance of paralegals in conducting human rights monitoring, tracking human rights violations, and following up on court cases.

Participants learned about the rigorous processes required for legal mining operations in Ghana, including obtaining reconnaissance and prospecting licenses.

They also discussed the adverse impact of mining on communities, including pollution, human rights violations, environmental degradation, and the loss of indigenous knowledge.

The Associate Executive Director of Wacam, Mrs. Hannah Owusu-Koranteng, stated that development should not come at the expense of community livelihoods and the environment.

She stressed the need for transparency and accountability in mining operations and the importance of empowering communities to assert their rights and protect their environment.

Wacam's Technical Director, Lawyer Kwaku Afari, took the participants through the Minerals and Mining (Compensation and Resettlement) Regulations, 2012 (L.I. 2157).

According to him, these regulations ensure that the rights of affected parties are protected and that they receive fair compensation for land acquired or affected by mining operations.

Welcoming the participants, the Executive Director of Wacam, Mr. Daniel Owusu-Koranteng, underscored the importance of empowering mining communities with knowledge of mining regulations to assert their rights and demand transparency and accountability.

He encouraged participants to utilise their skills to benefit their communities, underlying the impact they can have by applying their knowledge to make a positive difference in the lives of others.

In a remark, the Deputy National Director-Operations of A Rocha Ghana, Darly Bossu, commended Wacam and CEPIL for successfully organising the training, and urged the participants to exercise caution and wisdom in their role as paralegals in their communities.

Operations Director at NDF, Glen Asomaning, cautioned the participants against allowing financial influences to compromise their integrity and effectiveness as paralegals.

The training is the first of three paralegal modules planned for the participants, and it marks an important step in building resilience in extractive communities in Ghana.