CJ Directs Media Coalition to Seek Court’s Participation Over Mild Fines
The Media Coalition Against Galamsey has been directed by the Chief Justice to use the “judicial process” to seek redress in its protestations of mild fines imposed by the courts on offenders.
While responding to a petition by the Coalition over the sentencing of 10 Chinese illegal miners in Tarkwa last September, Chief Justice Sophia Abena Boafoa Akuffo, per a letter signed by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex Poku-Acheampong, said the petition was “receiving the necessary attention”.
“Meanwhile, Her Ladyship the Chief Justice would like to advise that you use the judicial process to address your grievances”, the letter dated December 14, 2017 said.
A similar petition to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice is yet to be responded to.
Operation Vanguard, the joint taskforce instituted by President Akufo-Addo to combat illegal mining in the Ashanti, Eastern and Western regions recently called for a review of what it says are not very deterrent fines imposed on convicted illegal miners.
In the Tarkwa case, a Circuit Court sentenced the 10 illegal Chinese miners to a fine of GHȻ2,400 each or in default serve 30 months in prison, leading to a call by the Coalition over the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court to adjudicate the matter.
The coalition also argued that: “Under section 99(3) of the Act, as amended by the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 900), a foreigner convicted of engaging in small-scale mining is liable to a fine of not less than 30,000 penalty units or to a term of imprisonment of not more than 20 years or both. Therefore, the circuit court judge was bound by law to, at least, having found the illegal Chinese miners guilty, sentence them to pay a minimum fine of GHȻ360,000.00. The judge did not have discretion to award a sentence below that prescribed by law and therefore the purported conviction is void.”
Operation Vanguard when it issued its latest operational updates in December since inception on July 31, 2017, said should the trend of mild fines continue, it could potentially undermine the national fight against the galamsey menace.
According to Operation Vanguard, of a total of 109 foreigners arrested for illegal mining, 23 have successfully been convicted, with 22 of them being Chinese.