Galamsey fight: Shoot-to-kill will work- Deputy Speaker

By Justice Kofi Bimpeh
Shoot-to-kill in galamsey fight?
Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu

MP for Bekwai and Deputy Speaker, Joseph Osei Owusu has asked Parliament to consider enacting a law that will allow the joint task force in the galamsey fight to shoot and kill people who are still involved in illicit mining.

Joseph Osei Owusu said the shoot-to-kill policy will be the only way to stop people who he described as criminals from engaging in illegal mining in the country.

According to him, the galamsey fight cannot be achieved because as a country we tend to pamper wrongdoers a lot without taking stringent measures to deal with them.

“Extreme behavior must be met with an extreme response. We are dealing with people who are determined at every point to make their money regardless of what they are doing to the environment."

“Sometimes we need to be strong on wrongdoers. We are pampering wrongdoers in this country too much…and they are not many anyway," he added.

The media in 2017 launched a campaign against illicit mining in the country (galamsey) after reports emerged about the devastating condition of our lands and water bodies in some part of the country. Most of these rivers which serve as a source of drinking water for some communities have been heavily polluted.

Government also joined in the galamsey fight by setting up a ministerial committee and later a joint military and police task force under the code name "Operation Vanguard" to help stop both Ghanaians and some foreigners from endangering the lives of citizens.

The joint task force was faced with a lot of challenges, as aside the ban and their presence, individuals are still engaging in the act forcing them to burn some equipment of miners in the Northern part of the country.

These raised concerns whether or not the task force had the power to do so.

The minority in Parliament last week went on a fact-finding mission in the North where some trucks and equipment were burnt.

The Minority Leader, Haruna Idrissu, on Tuesday on the Floor of the House described the recent burning of trucks and equipment used for sand winning in the Dalun River by soldiers of Operation Vanguard as “extrajudicial” and “excessive”.

According to him, there is no justification for burning the equipment of the workers in the galamsey fight.

The Deputy Speaker while contributing the issue on the Floor of Parliament after it was raised by Kumbugu MP, Ras Mubarak, who also condemned the recent burning of trucks in his constituency by the military said:

“Mr Speaker, we should stand by the military, operation Vanguard and we should all stand together to ensure that our water bodies are clean and safe."

But the Second Deputy Speaker Alban Bagbin disagrees. He believes extreme measures is not the way to go in the Galamsey fight.

"It is only the military that is trained in war situations to shoot to kill, one man, one bullet...I don't think we are at that stage now...I don't support any Ghanaian killing any Ghanaian..."

Speaking on the same subject, Majority leader Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu argued that the actions of Operation Vanguard were well within the remit of the law as against the statement of the Minority.

“I do not think that the constitution, in so far as a matter is criminal, frowns upon the use of force to the extent that it may even deprive some other people of their lives. The constitution does not talk about that at all… Mr. Speaker, if we agree that what was going on was criminal, the constitution doesn’t forbid any person trying to prevent the commission of that crime from pursuing that person and asserting force which may even result in death.”

He also quoted Article 13 of the Constitution which says “no person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offense under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted.”

The article adds that: “A person shall not be held to have deprived another person of his life in contravention of clause (1) of this article if that other person dies as the result of a lawful act of war or if that other person dies as the result of the use of force to such an extent as is reasonably justifiable in the particular circumstances: for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property; or in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or for the purposes of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or in order to prevent the commission of a crime by that person.”

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