Gov’t of Ghana Taken To Court Over Atewa
Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) including A Rocha Ghana (ARG) have taken government of Ghana to court to overturn plans to mine bauxite in the Atewa Range Forest Reserve (ARF).
ARG, together with six (6) other CSOs on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 filed a suit against the Attorney General at the General Jurisdiction Court (High Court) Division.
The other six CSOs standing as plaintiffs are: Flower Ghana, Concern Citizens of Atewa Landscape, Ghana Youth Environment Movement, Ecocare Ghana, Kasa Initiative Ghana and Save the Frogs Ghana.
The private citizens are: Awula Serwah, Oteng Adjei, Boakye Twumasi- Ankrah and Nana Asante.
Together, our Writ is making a claim that, mining of bauxite in the Atewa Forest Range (AFR) violates “the right to life and dignity as enshrined in articles 13 and 15 of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana which includes the right to a clean and healthy environment as well as the right to have the environment protected for the benefits of present and future generation.”
We are also praying the Court to restrain the Government, its agents, workmen, allotees and guarantees from undertaking mining and its related activities in the forest.
We want the Government and its agents to declare the Atewa Range Forest (ARF) as a “Protected Zone” and take steps to protect the forest in accordance with its constitutional obligation, as contained under Article 36 (9) of the Constitution.
According to the case documents, we are asking the Court amongst other things, to compel the Government to restore or pay cost for restoring damages that have been caused to the Atewa Range Forest Reserve as a result of recognisance, prospecting and clearing of roads in the ARF, done without the necessary due diligence.
We are not against development
In the writ, we reiterated the fact that, we are not against government’s quest to raise funds through various endeavours including exploiting the country’s resources for national development. However, it is the case that, Ghana does not need to exploit the ARF bauxite reserves since there are far richer bauxite reserves according to information available.
We further stated that only “17.78% of Ghana’s bauxite can be found in Kyebi, the area within which the ARF can be found. Hence, over 82% of Ghana’s bauxite can be mined without compromising the existence of the ARF.
Resounding voices of reasoning
The Campaign to secure Atewa Forest against any plans to mine and convert it into a National Park has seen countless CSOs and individuals both local and international, joining calls for government to rescind its decision to mine the ARF.
Over a 100,000 people, both home and abroad have signed several petitions asking for the Atewa Forest to be secured for now and the future
In the same spirit of environmental protection, we have sent a petition to both the Presidency and Parliament but the Government of Ghana consistently demonstrates no interest at all in these actions.
As plaintiffs, we have also made reasonable efforts to meet with government and to demonstrate with scientific evidence the need to exclude the ARF from its mining agenda, but government has failed to engage with us.
Must we fight our own government to guarantee the security of Ghana’s remaining patches of natural resources?