Environmental Protection Agency trains prosecutors to enforce laws

Mr Daniel S. Amlalo, acting Executive Director, Environmental Protection Agency, on Monday, entreated staff of the Agency to empower themselves with  Act 490, which establishes the Agency  to enable them to prosecute offenders of environmental crimes across the country.

He said staff in charge of prosecutions who fail to act would be held accountable if they failed to proceed to court to meet the demands of justice where there were flagrant breaches of the relevant laws.

The offences relate to water, air and noise pollution, misuse of chemicals and pesticides and failure to secure environmental permits before undertaking major developments.

Speaking at the opening of a two-week training programme for 40 staff on prosecutions, Mr Amlalo said enforcement action constituted an important tool in efforts aimed at environmental protection and sustainable development.

He said the EPA Act, 1994, (Act 490), empowers the agency as a corporate body to sue and be sued, so if officers were able to acquaint themselves properly with the provisions of the Act, they would be able to prosecute offenders in any court of competent jurisdiction without  fear of being flawed by lawyers.

In 1999, the Office of the Attorney General, under powers given to him by section 56 of the Criminal and other Offences Procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30), appointed specified officers of the Agency as public prosecutors, in respect of offences and matters in Act 490 and regulations made under the Act.

This was done under Executive Instrument number 9 (E.I. 9), which forms the basis for this training exercise.

Mr Amlalo said it was important that the EPA fulfilled its mandate by prosecuting in earnest, to halt the increase in environmental crimes.

“The number of enforcement notices issued by both the Head and the Regional offices bear testimony to the fact that there are no shortages of violations of environmental laws across the country,” he stated.

“Various industries, facilities and operators who are subject to our permitting conditions have, over the years tested our resolve and capacity to act to act it’s time to put a halt to their actions which often hurt our environment and also impair human health.”

The acting Executive Director told the participants who would be taking through the 1992 Constitution, the Criminal Procedure Act, Criminal Offences Act, Evidence Act and guidelines on how to prosecute that, they had “a rare opportunity to make significant contribution to Ghana’s efforts at assuring sustainable development for present and future generations.”

Mr Lambert Faabeluon, Director, Manufacturing Industry Department, EPA, urged the participants to “know the EPA Law right at the fingertips” to enable to them prosecute.

He said most Lawyers were not conversant with the handling of environmental issues so once the officers proved their worth at the knowledge of the law, lawyers for offending parties would resort to out of court settlements, adding that once you show your ignorance, “you would be floored, even though you may be right.”

Source: GNA

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.