Climate Change & Energy
‘Galamsey’: Without evidence to nail the ‘big fishes’, we can’t go to court – Deputy AG
Source: myjoyonline.com - October 19, 2023
A Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah says the inability of the state to prosecute any high profile person alleged to be involved in illegal mining in the country is due to lack of evidence.
Speaking on Joy FM’s Top Story on Wednesday, October 18, he said the ‘small fishes’ arrested and prosecuted for the menace failed to point out their sponsors.
This, according to him, makes it impossible to prosecute any “big person” alleged to be funding 'galamsey' because the “practice has been that anytime those small fishes are arrested and undergoing prosecution or investigation, they do not reveal the very big people that we claim are behind them. And the main point of every prosecution is evidence.
"Unless you get evidence to nail the big fishes, we can continue to say it, we can continue to comment about the presence of some big fish somewhere but we cannot get the result,” he said.
He added that “if nothing at all, there are two pieces of legislation that we can rely on to let the security agency have it.
“You can go as a whistleblower – the agents will listen to you and take it up or you want to be a witness and be protected, there is a witness protection law available.”
The Ghana Bar Association at a press briefing on Wednesday asked the government to target corrupt politicians, who are bankrolling and profiting from the 'galamsey' menace.
The GBA urged "government to be honest and bold and fish of these evil acts of powerful interests, engaged in the wanton destruction of our environment."
The GBA President Yaw Acheampong, said "Galamsey is a capital-intensive illegal activity. The heavy-duty equipment and other machinery and chemicals used in galamsey cannot be afforded and purchased by the young men or women who get arrested on galamsey sites. These people are not the ones who grant entry permits into forest reserves.
“Galamsey can only thrive if powerful and influential persons of society actively fund such menace. The reasonable and irresistible conclusion is that it is controlled and funded by a network of corrupt public officials, politicians, traditional rulers and wealthy and powerful business interests.
“Indeed, we will be playing the ostrich with our future if we pretend as we are doing at the moment," he stressed.
The Deputy AG said, "That is why I am happy that the Ghana Bar Association is also coming on board. When I say they are coming onboard, it is because they are part of a system and we expect that they would have input as to how we can get evidence to nail big fishes, we are ready to receive the evidence,” he said.
Asked whether the persons cited in former Environment Minister, Prof Frimpong Boateng’s report and the JoyNews’ documentary on illegal mining are not evidence enough, the Deputy Attorney General said “When it comes to evidence, there's evidence available that our forest reserve has been damaged by illegal mining. The whole issue is who caused that kind of damage?
“Before you go to court as a prosecutor, you must be sure that you have the evidence connecting the accused person to the offence that you're talking about.
“So until we get satisfactory evidence, that we are very sure that for example, Evans is the one who caused destruction to forest A as a result of galamsey, there's no way we can haul you before a court and embarrass ourselves.”
Deputy Attorney General, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah