Judges need education on human rights issues –WACAM

Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) has appealed to the Chief Justice to run educational programmes on human rights challenges for Judges to curb the impunity of multinational mining companies in mining communities.

A release signed by the Executive Director of WACAM, Mr Daniel Owusu-Koranteng on Thursday said such educational programmes for Judges on human rights challenges in the mining industry would 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).

It said such educational programmes would equip the Judges to avoid situations where the country’s 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.

WACAM made the appeal to the Chief Justice following what the Association described as a flawed judgement given by a Sekondi/Takoradi High Court presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Oppong.

The Court gave AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine an order to demolish the village of Mr James Sarpong, a member of the Teberebie Concerned Farmers Association who has 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.

WACAM said the Sekondi/Takoradi High Court ignored the legal requirement of compensation payment in cases of compulsory acquisition by the State as a precondition for a mineral rights holder to have access to the land or properties of an owner or 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,” the release said.

“On 19th of June 2009, AngloGold Ashanti Iduapriem Mine after failing to use many intimidating strategies to throw Mr Sarpong out of his village to gain access for the expansion of the Company’s Rock Waste Dump, went to a High Court in Sekondi/Takoradi to seek an order to evict Mr Sarpong from his village which was granted by Justice 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 said Mr Sarpong, who used to be a successful Farmer with a 3.3 hectare oil palm plantation and also cultivated pineapples, plantain, cassava, maize and raised farm animals on subsistence basis, was now living as a pauper 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 release said.

Source: GNA

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