16th May, 2017
OCCUPYGHANA® PRESS STATEMENT
OCCUPYGHANA® PETITIONS ATTORNEY-GENERAL OVER CHARGES LAID AND FILED IN THE CASE OF REPUBLIC V. EN HUANG & 4 OTHERS (CASE NO. CR 344/2017)
OccupyGhana® has seen a copy of what purports to be the Charge Sheet in the case of Republic v. En Huang & 4 Others (Case No. CR 344/2017) and dated 8th May 2017, and a copy is attached for ease of reference.
We note that under the Statements of Offence, the accused persons are charged with the offences of (i) Illegal Employment of Foreign Nationals (in breach of section 24 of the Immigration Act and regulation 18 of the Immigration Regulations), and (ii) Disobedience of Directive Given (in breach of section 52 of the Immigration Act.)
However, under the Particulars of Offence, we are told that the First Accused Person had employed the other Accused Persons “to work illegally at a small-scale mining site,” and that all the accused persons, being holders of visitors’ visas had also disobeyed the condition that required them “not to engage in any employment in Ghana.”
We are deeply concerned that the immigration offences laid and filed against the Accused Persons do not match the severity of the act of employing or being employed “illegally at a small-scale mining site.” It is true that a person commits an offence if he/she “disobeys or disregards an obligation imposed or directive given by or under [the Immigration] Act.” But the punishment for this offence is a maximum fine of Twelve Thousand Ghana Cedis (GH¢12,000) and/or a maximum prison term of two (2) years, under section 52 of the Immigration Act. And, unless the law has been changed, regulation 18 of the Immigration Regulations provides that an individual who employs a foreigner in breach of section 24 of the Immigration Act attracts a penalty of only Five Hundred Ghana Cedis (GH¢500) payable to the Immigration Service. It is only upon failure to pay that measly penalty that the person may be taken to court, not for employing a foreigner illegally, but for failure to pay the measly 500 Cedi and upon conviction pay a fine of Four Thousand and Two Hundred Ghana (GH¢4,200) Cedis.
However, from our research, foreigners are absolutely prohibited from engaging in small-scale mining in Ghana. It is therefore an offence under section 99 of the Minerals and Mining Act for foreigners to engage in small scale-mining, and offenders attract a fine between GH¢360,000 and GH¢3.6M, and/or a maximum jail term of 20 years. Further, the equipment used in or associated with the offence and any product derived are to be seized, and are liable to forfeiture by a court order and then allocated to “the appropriate state institution” within 60 days by the Minister responsible for mining.
That is why we are concerned that if these Accused Persons employed others or were employed “to work illegally at a small-scale mining site,” then the immigration charges that have been laid and filed are really minor as compared to what the law provides for in the Minerals and Mining Act.
We therefore Petition your office to call for the docket on this matter, investigate the charges laid and filed, and if found necessary, for fresh, proper, weightier and more relevant charges to be filed or added.
The fight against illegal mining in Ghana is a fight to protect, not only the present, but the future of this country. It is therefore imperative that the law must be applied to all who fall foul of it, without fear or favour.
Yours in the service of God and Country,