We Beg to Differ Sir, Hon Joseph Osei Owusu
Our lead story today sadly reports that one of Ghana’s most respected politicians and legal brains, Joseph Osei Owusu, the First Deputy Speaker of the current Parliament has advocated for a law that would allow a shoot-to-kill policy in an attempt to tackle the illegal mining canker troubling Ghana.
As a newspaper, we are strongly opposed to the suggestion by the senior politician who is also a seasoned lawyer and Member of Parliament for Bekwai constituency in the Ashanti region.
In a multi-party democratic State where our constitution clearly states that all accused persons are innocent until tried and proven guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction, we wonder how the same constitution can ever allow an on-the-spot shoot to kill policy without contradicting the principles of fair judicial trial.
The senior lawyer, in his argument, likened the activities of the illegal miners to armed robbers terrorizing people. Well, we believe the illegal miners are even worse than armed robbers and assassins. But their crime still does not merit or warrant a shoot-to-kill policy.
In any case, armed robbers are sent to court for them to have a fair trial where they are represented by lawyers and all that. So how come our Deputy Speaker is making such a cruel suggestion for illegal miners.
Perhaps, he was carried away with emotions and spoke out of hurt and pain. Pain caused by the irreplaceable and grievous damage the illegal miners are causing the country.
They destroy farm products and poison the farmlands, they rape and tear down forest reserves kept and maintained for centuries, they destroy natural water bodies and endanger the lives of millions of persons whose livelihood depends on such water bodies, they act with forbidden and ruthless violence against anyone who dare attempts to obstruct their senseless and selfish illegal acts.
We can appreciate that any right-thinking Ghanaian should be angered by these offenses. But it was for very good reasons that the country has laws. And those laws clearly state into details how such offenders should be treated.
The stated punishments, certainly does not include a shoot to kill on the spot policy.
Our other basis of disappointment is that the focus of his suggestion seems to be only the Chinese illegal miners. This is unacceptable. No Chinese can ever walk into Ghana and independently encroach any forest reserve or piece of land to engage in illegal mining without the support, guidance, active involvement and protection of a Ghanaian.
What then should happen to the selfish Ghanaians who give a wicked helping hand to the illegal Chinese miners? How come Hon. Joseph Osei Owusu left them out in his suggestion?
Ghana is a signatory to several international treaties. We live in a globalized world now and certainly, our law makers should not be seen or heard making such undemocratic recommendations.
The Chinese engaged in illegal mining activities in Ghana are not the problem. The real problem is the selfish Ghanaians giving support and protection to the foreigners to engage in the cruel illegality.