President Nana Akufo-Addo has criticized the country’s Judiciary accusing them of not doing enough to help in the fight against illegal mining.
Speaking at a meeting with members of the Council of State, where he announced an amendment of the law to ensure stiffer punishment for illegal miners, the President said the amendment has taken away the discretionary powers of Judges in determining the punishment for offenders.
Per the amendment which the President has assented to, illegal miners would be jailed between 15 to 25 years. The President says the fight against illegal mining must be won to stop its devastation.
“We’ve had to take away some of the discretion of the judges. They are not cooperating on these matters. People are caught in flagrant acts, they are taken to court and granted bail and at the end of the day they disappear… All of these Chinese people are caught, brought to court, they are granted bail and we don’t hear of them again only to hear that they have resurfaced in the country,” he president said.
This is the first time the president is explicitly expressing his displeasure about the judiciary’s handling of illegal mining cases.
The problem of illegal mining was one of the major issues the Akufo-Addo government promised to tackle after it assumed office.
The government launched Operation Vanguard in 2017 to frontally fight illegal miners and have them prosecuted.
Although some arrests have been made, the Operation Vanguard team have had the cause to complain about the lenient sentence handed to illegal miners found guilty by the courts.
They say the fines handed to the illegal miners are very low and most of them pay the fines and return to continue the illegal acitivity.