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The media coalition against illegal mining popularly known as ‘galamsey’ has registered concerns over the recent conviction of 10 Chinese illegal miners by a Tarkwa Circuit Court in the Western Region.
The coalition has subsequently submitted a petition to the Chief Justice for a possible “review” of the conviction over matters of jurisdiction. It says the sentence was not punitive enough and may be a stab in the back of efforts toward stopping illegal mining.
The court carried out its mandate and applied the law by sentencing the Chinese to a fine of GH¢2,400 or in default to serve 30 months in prisons.
However, the coalition maintains that the court did not have jurisdiction to entertain the matter and therefore the purported sentence was a nullity.
Quoting from the Minerals and the Mining Act, the coalition explained that the Act defines a court as High Court and that it is only the High Court that had the jurisdiction in matters pertaining to the Act.
The petition signed by 41 coalition members some of whom have strong legal background submitted that under the act foreigners in small scale mining are liable to a fine of GH¢360,000 or a term of not more than 20 years or to both.
The petitioners questioned the validity of the judgment, contending that the judge had no discretionary powers to award a sentence below what is prescribed in the law.
We at the Ghanaian Times are at a loss at this development and want to humbly ask why the case was entertained in the circuit court rather than the appropriate court, which is the high court.
We know the courts are well aware of their jurisdiction and have always been up to the task when it comes to hearing and determinating of cases. In this instance, is it a case of an oversight or is it the case of the coalition also not fully abreast with the circumstance of the matter? We believe in the competence and integrity of the membership of the coalition and will not be making a case (petition) in vacuum
Be it as it may, we need clarity from the custodians of our laws. We, therefore, want to add our voice to the petition by asking for clarity on this matter, so as to put the matter to rest, by revisiting of the case for the appropriate court to deal with it and apply the sanctions as stipulated in the Minerals and Mining Act.
We believe in responsible mining and we strongly support the enforcement of the country’s law to curb irresponsible and illegal mining that is causing a lot of harm to the environment and health of Ghanaians.
The earlier this matter (petition) is dealt with, the more invigorated the fight against the menace of illegal mining.
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