Galamsey can be said to be the most topical issue in the country because of its harmful effects on water bodies in particular and the environment in general.
The menace appears to be a vexed issue because in spite of its ‘deadly’ devastation, it has become very difficult to deal with.
As things stand now, there is the need for a multi-faceted approach to dealing with galamsey.
This should include law enforcement and people of clout like chiefs and politicians and other public figures ceasing to plead for the freeing of galamseyers arrested by security personnel.
This is very important because the destruction of mining equipment, for instance, has not stopped the illegal mining activities.
On page 3 of our today’s issue is a story on galamsey.
The story talks about the prosecution of 187 persons, including foreigners in the Eastern Region, for various mining offences since 2017.
It stipulates that some of the offenders were prosecuted under the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), whereas others were tried under the Minerals and Mining (Amendment) Act, 2019 (Act 995).
A look at the two laws shows that the latter is more deterrent than the former.
The Act 703 prescribed a penalty of a minimum fine of one thousand penalty units or imprisonment for a term not more than three years for the offence of undertaking a small-scale mining operation without a licence or acting in contravention of a provision of Act 703 in respect of which an offence is created.
However, offenders tried under Act 995 offenders can face up to 25 years in jail in addition to fines.
One good aspect of the Act 995is its variation of penalties for Ghanaians and foreigners, in which case the foreigners receive stiffer punishments.
It is clear the new law is truly more deterrent than the old one and gives hope that it can put some fear in galamseyers, even if not all of them as some would dare everyone.
For instance, a few days ago, some galamseyers wielding guns acted in a way to show that they would challenge anyone who would dare them.
The Attorney-General’s office says besides the prosecutions in the Eastern Region, there are others going on in the Ashanti, Central and Western regions.
The Ghanaian Times believes that such prosecutions should be timely and immediately announced for recalcitrant galamseyers to know that once the law gets them they would never be left off the hook.
Judging from the numbers involved in illegal mining, people can conclude that the prosecutions are too low, so the security personnel doing the arrests should put in more efforts because their sacrifices are for the good of both present and future generations.
The complaint by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, that a Circuit Court has imposed sentences between three years and five years on some illegal miners whose cases were filed under Act 703 but were determined after the Act 995 come into force on August, 19, 2019 is an issue for the legal brains.
However, the courts and, for that matter, the judiciary should note that they have a pivotal role in the fight against galamsey, so their verdicts should be deterrent enough.