The Member of Parliament for Wa West, Superintendent Peter Toobu, has taken exception to the government’s approach of burning mining equipment in its latest attempt to fight illegal small-scale mining.
During an interview on the Citi Breakfast Show, Supt. Toobu said the government and the military must follow the law by presenting seized equipment to the police for safekeeping rather than burning them on-site, since they are exhibits relevant to the courts in prosecuting those behind the illegal operations.
“We are reducing the galamsey fight to a security problem. When you analyze it this way and you design a strategy to deal with it, failure is imminent. We failed in Operation Vanguard and what are the lessons learnt? The criminal justice system runs on evidence and the President even knows that he doesn’t have any right to declare anybody as a criminal, it has to be done by a court of competent jurisdiction. So if you go to the mining site, the site must be an illegal site, the machines that are there and if they are there illegally, these are pieces of exhibits, so if you decide to burn all the exhibits and you say those who think they have the right should go to court, well the law is clear that these exhibits should be handed over to the police for safekeeping,” Supt. Toobu said.
Earlier this week, President Akufo-Addo declared his support for the action of the military in the fight against illegal mining, challenging persons who disagree with the burning of equipment to resort to the courts to make their case.
“I know there are some who believe that the ongoing exercise of ridding our water bodies and forest zones of harmful equipment and machinery is unlawful and, in some cases, harsh. I strongly disagree, and I would advise those who take a contrary view to go to court to vindicate their position, if they so wish. That is what the rule of law is all about,” the President stated.
About the seizure and burning of mining equipment
The Ghana Armed Forces has been deployed to various parts of the country to fight illegal small-scale mining affecting water bodies and forest reserves.
As part of their operations, the ‘Operation Halt’ taskforce has supervised the burning of various mining equipment including excavators and generators, but this activity has been widely condemned by some persons who believe the seized equipment could serve other useful purposes.
Some affected small-scale miners also claim they have documents backing their operations, and that they have been unfairly targeted; a situation that some fear could lead to the payment of judgement debts should such persons choose to go to court.
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