It seems all efforts and measures being put in place to curb illegal mining popularly known as galamsey in the country have proven futile as more people are vigorously engaged in the activity.
A report by the current Attorney-General, Godfred Yeboah Dame has revealed that about seven hundred and twenty-seven (727) people are on trial across the country for illegal mining.
According to him, there are one hundred and seventeen (117) galamsey cases pending before various High Courts and Circuit Courts.
The report by Mr. Dame which was sighted by 1Family Radio indicated that out of these 177 cases, the Eastern Region of Ghana alone has about 50 cases pending before court. The Western Region accounted for 33 cases.
The Northern Region has one case, The Ashanti Region accounted for 23 cases while the Greater Accra Region and the Upper East Region recorded seven and three cases respectively. He noted that this is unusual because normally, a typical galamsey case involves the apprehension and prosecution of at least six or seven persons.
He stated these suspects have been indicted with offenses such as involving in mining operation without license, buying and selling of minerals without license. Mr. Dame added that punishment meted out to such offenders is under the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995) which happens to be an amendment to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703).
According to the A-G, the passage of the 2019 (Act 995) is an indication by the president to fight this menace come what may.
Speaking on some of the successes of this exercise, he noted that the Eastern Region branch of the Attorney-General’s office has been able to convict about 187 accused persons who were involved in illegal mining.
He explained that from August 2021 to September 2022, about thirty-three (33) individuals have been tried and sentenced under the new Act.
Mr. Dame also highlighted on some challenges faced in combating this menace. He stated that sometimes some offenders are granted bail with lenient punishment by some courts across the country.
Another challenge has to do with wrong sentencing by some judges. He cited a case in Tarkwa where the judge sentenced the accused to fines rather than the custodial sentences and fines under Act 995.