The slowness of criminal cases and the granting of bail to illegal miners who return to their sites, according to Attorney-General Godfred Yeboah Dame, are impeding efforts to combat “galamsey.”
However, he claims that 727 people are currently on trial for a variety of crimes.
Following a report by Prof. Kwabena Frimpong Boateng on alleged high-level government complicity stifling the fight to end the menace, the conversation about illegal mining is back in the spotlight.
In a message to the media, Mr. Dame has given the public an update on the efforts being made by his office to end the threat.
He stated that since January 2022, there have been a total of 119 criminal cases ongoing at the High Court and certain Circuit Courts across the nation, involving the prosecution of about 727 people for crimes related to unlawful mining.
The main places where the prosecution of people involved in illicit mining is being carried out are our regions, which include the Eastern, Ashanti, Western, and Greater-Accra places. There are some in the Northern and Upper East Regions as well.
The accused people come from a variety of West African countries, including Ghana, Nigeria, Niger, Burkina Faso,Nigeria and China.
According to the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995), the primary offense is conducting a mining operation without a license and purchasing and selling minerals without a license.
The A-G additionally emphasized a few difficulties encountered in the procedure.
According to him, the court’s granting of very lax requirements for bail to accused parties makes it simple for those parties to meet those conditions and then flee.
Numerous defendants who were given bail by the courts and were being tried across the nation have since vanished.
According to the A-G, the judiciary should join the fight against galamsey by exercising caution when granting bail and accelerating its procedures to ensure prompt prosecution and punishment of offenders.
He also draws attention to what he perceives as a lack of witness cooperation.
It might be challenging for the prosecution to convince witnesses who originally provide statements during the investigation stage to appear in court and testify.
As seen in the trial of a Vietnamese national in Accra, the absence or lack of court interpreters who can speak and interpret court proceedings in the language accused persons may desire to utilize slows down court procedures.
According to the AG, his office is dedicated to bringing charges against and punishing suspects when thorough investigations have been completed.