Climate Change & Energy
Stopping the impunity: Activists petition AG, IGP over lack of prosecution of foreigners engaged in galamsey
Source: Citinewsroom.com - September 6, 2022
The Attorney General and Minister for Justice and the Inspector General of Police have been petitioned by environmental activists to detail the number of foreign nationals arrested for engaging in illegal mining in Ghana and their nationalities.
In the petition by the Ghana Environmental Advocacy Group and A Rocha Ghana, concern was expressed over reports by The Fourth Estate that only two out of hundreds of Chinese nationals arrested for engaging in illegal mining from 2012 to date remain in Ghanaian jails.
“To read that those arrested end up quietly deported to their home countries with their loot without any further consequences while the state and local communities are left to reel under the weight of the environmental degradation they leave behind is both unconscionable and irresponsible,” the petition stated.
These concerns come after the re-arrest of Aisha Huang despite her deportation in 2019 for engaging in legal mining in Ghana.
Reports indicate that Aisha came to Ghana from a neighbouring country through a land border.
Upon her arrival, she also acquired a Ghana card in February 2022 with a new name, Huang En.
Find below the full demands in the petition:
We have learnt with great concern a report from the Fourth Estate published on July 20, 2022, that only two out of hundreds of Chinese nationals arrested for engaging in
Galamsey in Ghana from 2012 to date remain in Ghanaian jails.
That the kind of Galamsey engaged in by most foreign nationals causes some of the
worst environmental damage to our country's rivers, lands and forests is known by all. This is because of the level of sophistication and the type of heavy machinery used by them. The case of En (Aisha) Huang who gained notoriety as a Galamsey Queen is a
case in point. Since her arrest and very controversial deportation there has been other countless, highly publicized arrests with pictures showing disturbing environmental degradation arising from the actions of these culprits.
To read that those arrested end up quietly deported to their home countries with their loot without any further consequences while the state and local communities are left to reel under the weight of the environmental degradation they leave behind is both unconscionable and irresponsible.
The posturing by our justice system, indicating that foreigners can ‘negotiate’ their way out of punitive penalties after committing environmental crimes is scary and does not bode well for our justice system, perpetuates impunity and erodes public confidence in the justice system. This lapse in the system also erodes the moral authority of our courts to enforce the law without fear or favour among citizens.
One is tempted to ask - What happened to the much-publicized 2019 amendment in the mining law that prescribes up to 25 years in prison and then deportation for foreign nationals caught engaging in illegal mining in Ghana? Ref: Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019, Act 995, Section 99, Sub 3 & 4. Could it be the reason why galamsey continues unabated with impunity defying all efforts by government to halt.
In the light of the above, we join the call by The Fourth Estate to the Chief Justice and
Minister for Justice, The IGP and the Ghana Immigration Service to, as a matter of
a. Share with Ghanaians the number of foreign nationals arrested for engaging in
illegal mining in Ghana and their nationalities.
b. Number of those arrested that are currently in jail
c. Number of those who have been released and for what reason (s)
d. Number of those deported and under what conditions
e. Number of such deportees who have returned and
f. Measures that have been put in place to ensure that new people coming do not
engage in illegal mining in Ghana.
The environmental cost of illegal and irresponsible mining has been enormous on the
country, and any loopholes in our system that encourages the breaking of the law,
especially by foreign nationals should be of concern to all, especially those of you
entrusted with this responsibility.
File Photo Aisha Huang arrested five years ago