September 8, 2008 16:54:57 PM
Posted By administrator
We members of the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) and victims of mining related human rights abuses across the country at a meeting from September 3-5th, 2008 in Accra Ghana convened to examine a Report of the State of Human Rights in Mining Communities in Ghana published by the Ghana Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), welcome the findings of the report and call for the urgent implementation of its recommendations to stop violence in mining and to protect the rights of all parties affected and or involved in mining.
In 2006, the National Coalition on Mining (NCOM) launched a national campaign to stop violence and human rights abuses in mining areas. As part of the campaign the Coalition submitted a complaint to the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) calling for investigation into allegations of human rights abuses perpetrated by mining companies, the police and the military against people living in communities affected by mining. The campaign was launched following an increase in alleged cases of human rights abuses perpetrated against members of local communities and small-scale artisanal miners or “galamseyers” in mining areas.
In response to the complaint including complaints submitted by individual victims of alleged human rights abuses, the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice conducted what it described as a “systemic” investigation into alleged abuses of the social and economic rights of communities affected by mining. It listed some of its major findings as “inadequate compensation for destroyed properties; unacceptable alternative livelihood projects; absence of effective channels of communications/consultations between companies and communities; excesses against galamseys; health problems attributed to mining; reckless spillage of cyanide; and unfulfilled promises of employment”.
The report concluded that “there is evidence of widespread violations of human rights of individual members of communities and communties’ collective rights in some mining areas in the country”. It proceeded to provide evidence of violation of individual and collective rights to include widespread pollution of water sources, deprivation and loss of livelihoods as well as excesses by state security agencies and the security contractors of mining companies.” The report noted that some of the excesses resulted in serious injuries and fatalities.
The findings of the Report vindicate several of the positions long held by the Coalition, local communities and several other advocacy organisations regarding the destructive legacy of mining and the limited degree of its contribution to the national economy. The National Coalition and its allies have consistently argued that despite its potential as catalyst for social and economic development mining over the years, particularly that undertaken by transnational mining companies has tended to worsen the already social marginalisation of local communities, small-scale miners, and other social groups such as women, the elderly, the disabled and children. These groups suffer disproportionately from mining related dislocations. In particular, women have been victims of direct displacement from their productive economic activities by mining operations. They have also suffered gender discrimination and inequality from the little benefits accruing from mining.
Notwithstanding the rhetoric of corporate social responsibility projects, we have witnessed transnational mining companies and state regulatory institutions directly and indirectly supervise:
· Massive destruction of the environment
· Excessive deprivation of the national economy and citizens from accessing the full benefits of mineral resources
· Indiscriminate dislocation and displacement of local communities from their natural resources, in particular, land, water resources and cultural heritage
· Increased violence and human rights abuses of people living in communities affected by mining as well as small-scale miners.
We wish to thank the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice for conducting such a painstaking investigation. We find the report and its recommendations as a wakeup call not only to the mining companies, the police, the military and mining sector regulatory institutions who have been in the centre of allegations of human rights violations but also all institutions of justice to their statutory responsibility in the protection and promotion of the fundamental human rights and freedoms of citizens.
The individuals who have suffered various degrees of injuries and pain are hoping to receive justice. In the light of this, the Coalition applauds the decision of the Commission to commence investigation into the individual complaints submitted to it. We hope the findings of the “systemic” investigation would inspire government and friends of justice to resource the Commission to carry out its statutory duty of investigation into these complaints.