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Ghana's Chief Justice sets up specialized courts to deal with illegal mining

Ghana's Chief Justice sets up specialized courts to deal with illegal mining

Ghana

Georgina Theodora Wood, Ghana’s Chief Justice has constituted fourteen special courts to deal with mining related offences – in the wake of public outrage over illegal mining popularly referred to as ‘galamsey.’

According to a statement issued by the secretary to the Judicial Service, the courts were in furtherance of “the recent groundswell of public revulsion and media and civil society advocacy against the menace of illegal mining, commonly referred to as “galamsey”.

“As an institution committed to the Rule of Law, we are prepared to lend our support to this renewed fight against illegal mining to stamp out the menace and thereby protect the country’s natural resources, particularly our water bodies, for the current and future generations,” the statement said.

As an institution committed to the Rule of Law, we are prepared to lend our support to this renewed fight against illegal mining to stamp out the menace and thereby protect the country’s natural resources, particularly our water bodies, for the current and future generations.

Cases are to be tried under the Minerals and Mining Acts, Act 703 and the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 900). Seven out of the fourteen courts are High Courts located in the capital and other regional capitals. The remaining are circuit courts across the gold-producing nation.

The Chief Justice said judges expected to sit on such cases will be given regular training to better equip them to discharge their duties. She added that the Service will consider increasing the number of courts if need be.

Ghana, a top gold exporter, is grappling with the issue of illegal mining in its resource-rich regions – mostly the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions.

A national outcry has followed media reportage of an environmental destruction as a result of polluted water bodies due to the activities of illegal small-scale mining activities. The media and civil society have tasked the government to do all it takes to put a stop to the activity.

Galamsey operations in the country are predominantly done with Chinese involvement. It has led to a tense diplomatic atmosphere between the two governments. About a dozen Chinese nationals are currently before the courts on charges of engaging in illegal mining activities.

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