The Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) has equipped representatives of mining communities in the Upper West and the Upper East Regions with Paralegal knowledge to enable them to provide cost-effective services to their communities.
About 50 participants drawn from five communities - Nadowli-Kaleo and Wa East Districts in the Upper West Region and Nabdamn, Bawku East, and Talensi Districts in the Upper East Region were taken through legal frameworks on the mining sector in the country including the mining and mineral act.
Mr Augustine Niber, the Executive Director of CEPIL, a rights-based not-for-profit Non- governmental Organisation (NGO), speaking at a two-day workshop in Wa, said the community representatives would also be provided with the needed working tools to enable them to function effectively. That was under the "Legal Support to Mining Affected Communities and Strategic Litigation in Ghana" project being implemented by CEPIL with funding from Ford Foundation.
It formed part of the CEPIL's "Extractive Communities Human Rights and Strategic Public Interest Litigation" Programme, targeting stakeholders and disadvantaged groups and communities in Ghana. "The participants were also expected to serve as focal persons and liaisons between their communities, Civil Society Organisations, and mining companies in their communities", he said.
The participants were also trained in compensation payment, local content regulation concerning mining operations, and other human rights issues pertaining to mining in the country. "The Centre's main objective is to hold both public and private actors accountable for the transgression of the law and make justice accessible and affordable to the poor, marginalized individuals and communities in Ghana." he explained.
Mr Niber explained that their work in mining communities across the country had revealed that those communities were faced with human rights violations as far as gold mining was concerned and that their intervention was to help end such abuses. Some of the human rights issues identified included: taking away properties of people without compensation, brutalizing community members, and sometimes using state security to harass them. Some of the participants told the Ghana News Agency that the workshop had been a revelation because they had understood their rights as residents of mining communities.
Mr Tiiroug Zumah Yaro, from Gbani in the Talensi District, noted that the knowledge he had acquired from the workshop would enable him to help his community demand their rights and ensure the necessary compensations were paid. With this training, we have realized that what leaders of the districts are doing is illegal. How can a
regional minister or District Chief Executive negotiate compensation on behalf of the community and force it down our throats", he queried.
Mr Nuhu Aziizu, a participant from Funsi in the Wa East District, also noted that he, hitherto, did not know they had rights to demand from mining companies operating in their communities but that through the workshop he had learned about those rights and how to demand them appropriately.
Madam Felicity Akapuuseba, another participant from the Upper East Region, called for the involvement of women, especially victims of the abuses by mining companies, in the "fight" for the rights of the affected people of the mining companies to help achieve the needed results. View Gallery