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Lands Minister provides legal and policy justification for burning of excavators

The Minister for Lands and Natural Resources, Samuel A. Jinapor, on Wednesday, June 30, 2021, appeared before Parliament to offer answers to some questions filed by the Member of Parliament of North Tongu, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, regarding the burning of excavators found at illegal mining sites.

Mr. Jinapor diffused the assertion that the burning of excavators was illegal, and insisted that the government and the anti-illegal mining task force are operating within the law.

He cited aspects of the constitution that validates the position of the government that burning of the excavators is legal, contrary to opinions from certain quarters.

“Mr. Speaker, Article 36(9) of the Constitution, which forms part of “The Directive Principles of State Policy”, and which is supposed to guide all citizens, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary in the application and interpretation of the Constitution and any other law, as well as in taking and implementing policy decisions, states as follows: 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,” he added.

“Again, article 41(k), under the same Chapter Six of the Constitution, provides that: ‘The exercise and enjoyment of rights and freedoms is inseparable from the performance of duties and obligations, and accordingly, it shall be the duty of every citizen to protect and safeguard the environment,” he said.

“Mr. Speaker, 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,” he said.

The Minister also clarified that the operations of the Operation Halt team are to ‘decommission and demobilize’ the mining equipment.

“Mr. Speaker, first, permit me to clarify the nature of the operation being carried out by the security services. What is being done is de-commissioning or de-mobilisation of the equipment used in destroying our forest reserves and water bodies, to make them incapable of being used for such illegalities,” he said.

He said the government has been compelled to adopt extreme measures to tackle the menace due to the precarious and “extraordinary” nature of the issue.

“When a country is confronted with an extraordinary problem, extraordinary measures ought to be deployed. The use of heavy machinery, such as excavators, for illegal mining in, and/or, near our forest reserves and water bodies is an extraordinary problem that requires the use of extraordinary measures to deal with.”

Dame’s justification for the burning of excavators ‘disingenuous’ – Inusah Fuseini

A former Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Inusah Fuseini, finds the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Dame’s justification of the government’s approach in fighting the illegal mining menace, particularly the burning of excavators, untenable.

Mr. Dame mounted a strong defence of the government’s strategy, saying its foremost principle in the fight is that “a person engaged in an illegality has no right [to do so].”

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