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Pressure group, OccupyGhana, has petitioned the Attorney-General (A-G) to call back the docket sheets in the case of five Chinese nationals accused of engaging in illegal mining, popularly known as galamsey and set out fresh investigations into the matter.
The group contends the prosecution proffered what it believes was minor charges purported to have been leveled against the five Chinese nationals.
“We are deeply concerned that the immigration offences laid against the accused persons do not match the severity of the act of employing or being employed illegally at a small mining site,’’ it said.
According to the pressure group, the punishment for the offence of disobeying a directive given under Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573) was a maximum fine of GH¢12, 000 or a maximum prison term of two years.
Also, it stated that the punishment for illegal employment of foreign nationals was a fine of GH¢500 payable to the immigration service, while a conviction for failing to pay that fine was GH¢4,200.
The petition added that from reliable sources, under the Minerals and Mining Act, foreigners were “absolutely prohibited from engaging in small–scale mining in Ghana’’
An offence attracts a fine between GH¢360,000 and GH¢ 3 million or a maximum jail term of 20 years. Further, the equipment used or associated with the offence is seized,’’ it said.
Call for docket
The pressure group is of the view that the five Chinese working or employing others to work “illegally at small –scale mining site’’ must be charged under the Minerals and Mining Act and not the supposed immigration charges.
It is, therefore, calling on the A-G to call for the docket on the matter, “investigate the charges laid and filed, and if found necessary call for fresh, proper, weightier and more relevant charges to be filed or added’’.
Highlighting on the issue, Nana Sarpong Agyemang Badu, a member of the group told sit-in host Kweku Owusu Adjei on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.5 FM that the menace will still fester, if accused persons are treated with leniency in galamsey offenses.
“It is as if the charges are softer. We need a punishment that will serve as a deterrent to other offenders. That is why we’ve petitioned the AG to call for the docket, and review it for fresh investigations or better still fresh charges to be proffered against them.
“In such offenses, in the employment of foreigners, when they are convicted, either they pay a maximum fine of GHS 12,000 or face 2 year jail term, but where foreigners are convicted for illegal or small scale mining, they’re fined GHS360,000 or a 20 year prison sentence.”
The five alleged ‘galamseyers’- Gao Jin Cheng, 45; Lu Qi Jun, 39; Haibin Gao, 26; Zhang Zhipen, 23, and En Huang, 31, a woman, also known as Aisha Huang, reported to be a kingpin in the galamsey business, were on May 9, 2017 remanded in prison custody by the Criminal Division of the Accra High Court.