Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Monitor Mining Companies…US body

Ariel Dulitzky, Director of Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, United States.

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday November 2, 2010
Human Rights Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law, United States has made a passionate appeal to the government to check mining companies that are abusing the rights of local people and engaging in wantom destruction of the environment in the quest for gold and other mineral resources.

“Human Rights Clinic is calling on the Ghanaian government to enforce existing laws that protect Ghanaians and change laws that allow mining companies to exploit them.”

According to the clinic, it has uncovered and documented the problems that Ghanaians living in the Tarkwa area in the Western Region face on a daily basis after it collaborated with the Center for Public Interest Law (CPIL) and the Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) to research into mining activities.

The clinic brought researchers to Ghana in October 2009, surveyed the Tarkwa area and conducted interviews to produce a report, entitled: “The Cost of Gold: Communities Affected by Mining in the Tarkwa Region of Ghana”.

A news release signed by Ariel Dulitzky, Clinic Director said researchers were able to establish that “the Ghanaian government allows mining companies to enter a given community with little input and no consent from the affected community, any consultation and cooperation means very little to the local communities who are disadvantaged in negotiations and cannot adequately participate in the decision-making process.”

It said “most importantly, Ghanaians are left without recourse when they are ignored. Many community members who have lost their property have been inadequately compensated, if at all, however, illegal eviction without adequate compensation is just a small component of the abuses in Ghana, the Clinic’s report noted.

“The mining companies frequently spill toxic waste and cyanide into rivers in Tarkwa,” the report said, adding that “the mining companies are able to exploit Ghanaian communities due to their financial strength and ability to lobby chiefs, public servants and government officials with no accountability. Therefore, those responsible for protecting the rights of Ghanaians are left without any incentive to do so.”

“Local communities affected by mining suspect that chiefs and government officials receive illegal benefits from the mining companies. These benefits are not passed on to community members,” it said.

“Tension between exploited Ghanaians and mining companies are on the rise. Peaceful protests have lead to violent encounters between locals and the military sent to keep the peace at mining sites. Tear gas, beatings and bullets have been unleashed on crowds of demonstrators.”

The clinic, an interdisciplinary group of law students and graduate students, work under the supervision of Clinic Director Ariel Dulitzky on human rights projects through fact finding, reporting and other public advocacy.

The Clinic is involved in a multitude of activities including supporting advocacy in domestic and international fora; investigating and documenting human rights violations; and engaging with global and local human rights campaigns.

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