Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor, Minister for Lands and Natural Resources

Minister for Lands and Natural Resources Mr. Samuel Abu Jinapor has justified the burning of excavators and other equipment confiscated at illegal mining sites.

According to him, per the 1992 Constitution government has ample justification to pursue every line of action to protect the environment.

He argued Articles 36 and 41 make the responsibilities and duties of the government abundantly clear in this regard.

Article 36(9) of the Constitution, he pointed out, states that, “The State shall take appropriate measures needed to protect and safeguard the national environment for posterity and shall seek co-operation with other states and bodies for purposes of protecting the wider international environment for mankind.”

Again, article 41 provides that, “The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms are inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment.” 

“So, the framers of our Constitution have bestowed a duty on the state to take appropriate measures to protect the environment of the nation and that is exactly what the government and the state are doing,” he added.

Mr. Abu Jinapor stated these when he addressed the media in Parliament on Wednesday on the legal and policy justification for the burning of excavators in the ongoing fight against illegal small-scale mining otherwise called galamsey.

The Minister earlier answered a question on the floor of the House on the same subject and stressed that President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo was spot on when he stated on 26th May, 2021 at the sod-cutting ceremony for the construction of the Law Village of the Ghana School of Law, that a person in possession of a valid license but undertakes mining in water bodies, or mines unlawfully in protected forest zones, also commits illegality.

According to him, the combined effect of these two articles of the Constitution is that citizens, who seek the protection of the law, have a duty to protect and safeguard the environment, and the state, as the custodian of the environment, has a duty to take measures necessary to ensure that the environment is protected for posterity.

“One of such measures the state has adopted, after trying several unsuccessful measures, is to de-commission equipment used in illegal mining, so that the perpetrators of these heinous crimes do not go back to continue the illegality with the same equipment,” he said.

The Minister noted that aside from the issue of the illegality of the activities of these galamseyers, the determination is to safeguard water bodies and forest reserves.

He stressed that the use of excavators for mining can cause the depletion of one hectare of forest cover in one day and cause total degradation of the landscape in the forest zones.

“It will take decades of hard work to get back our lost reserves, and de-contaminate our water bodies. That is why we are acting with urgency, and we simply cannot afford to look away nor relent,” he added.

According to him, within the few months that these measures were implemented, there have been significant improvements that have never been achieved in the fight against galamsey since the 1980s.

Mr. Abu Jinapor indicated the totality of the legal policy considerations support the work being undertaken by the security services and noted government is convinced no cause of action can be founded on such illegal acts.

He stressed it is time for genuine, honest, collective, broad-based, bipartisan and national effort to rescue the very existence of the Ghanaian people.

And assured that the government’s action in this regard is bold, necessary, in accord with the public interest, and the policy and legal justification are solid and well-grounded.

SOURCEBy Osumanu Al-Hassan
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