The Chief Justice has designated 14 courts – 7 High Courts and 7 Circuit Courts – to deal with all mining offences committed under the Minerals and Mining Act, Act 703.
A statement issued by the Judicial Secretary, Justice Alex B. Poku-Acheampong said the move is in furtherance of “the recent groundswell of public revulsion and media and civil society advocacy against the menace of illegal mining, commonly referred to as “galamsey”.
“As an institution committed to the Rule of Law, we are prepared to lend our support to this renewed fight against illegal mining to stamp out the menace and thereby protect the country’s natural resources, particularly our water bodies, for the current and future generations,” the statement said.
“The Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2015 (Act 900) has introduced new offences which confer jurisdiction on the High Courts and Circuit Courts.
“The Hon. Lady Chief Justice has to this end designated seven (7) High Courts located in Accra, Sekondi, Kumasi, Cape Coast, Koforidua, Sunyani and Bolgatanga to deal with all mining offences committed under the Minerals and Mining Act, (Act 703).
Seven (7) Circuit Courts have also been designated to deal with all offences created under the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act 2015 (Act 900) and shall exercise concurrent jurisdiction with the High Court. Judges who will be manning these courts will receive regular training to give them a better appreciation of the legal issues involved in illegal mining to enable them to handle cases efficiently in their courts and impose sentences commensurate with the offences.
“In the future, depending on the number of cases that will come up for trial, the Judiciary may increase the courts and number of Judges to ensure that the courts are not overwhelmed by the volume of work and that the cases are dealt with expeditiously,” the statement added.
The galamsey menace continues to serve as a threat to water bodies, aquatic life, and agriculture in the country.
However, several efforts by previous governments including setting up an inter-ministerial taskforce in the previous administration seem to have proved futile.
The new Minister of Lands and Natural Resources, Mr John Peter Amewu, has given a three-week ultimatum to all illegal miners to stop their activities or be prepared to face the full rigours of the law.