Sunday, 1 January 2017

Bravo To The Ghana Bar Association!

It was gratifying to read the new year message issued by the Ghana Bar Association (GBA),  on 30th December, 2016 - and signed by its national president, Benson Nutsukpui, Esq., and the national secretary, Justin Amenuvor, Esq.

The GBA's new year message included a condemnation of the unacceptable trashing of what is left  of our nation's natural heritage.

That emphasis on environmental degradation in Ghana, and its call for action by the next administration to tackle it head on, show clearly that  the GBA actually cares about the future of  our nation and its people.

The GBA was right to single out illegal gold mining in urging  the incoming Akufo-Addo administration to take active steps to deal with polluters and those destroying the natural environment.

It would make a huge difference in the fight against  environmental degradation throughout the country, if Ghana's next president  is flown over Akyem Abuakwa, for example, in a Ghana Air Force  helicopter, to see the extent of the destruction being wrought by illegal gold miners in that part of our nation.

It ought to be noted that eventually illegal gold mining could actually wipe out Akyem Abuakwa's cocoa-farming sector, if it is not halted now. The problem is that serious, if truth be told. Akyem Juaso is a case in point.

Like many of the cocoa farmers in the area whose farmlands are now mined-out open pits, it so happens that my family's organic cocoa plantation at Akyem Juaso was destroyed by illegal gold miners not too long ago.

We are still battling lethargic officialdom to sanction Hagnella Mining Company Limited and its self-proclaimed master-bribe-giving assigns - and force them to properly reclaim the area they have destroyed, thus far.

The impunity with  which illegal gold miners operate in what is supposed to be a nation in which the rule of law prevails is simply beyond belief. But I digress.

The Ghana Armed Forces could also arrange similar trips for their new commander-in-chief across the country for him to see the extent of the problem from the air - and the need for environmental degradation to be tackled immediately and in ruthless fashion.

The Ghana Bar Association deserves to be commended for recognising what is an existential threat to our nation and its people. In that regard, it is a real pity that the Ghanaian media has not been as proactive and plain-speaking in demanding action from officialdom to prevent what will be an apocalyptic future for Ghanaians if the situation is allowed to persist.

The GBA is being socially responsible in pointing out the fact that there is a real possibility that Ghana could face a future as a water-distressed society - if nothing is done today about illegal gold miners polluting streams, rivers, ground water table and other water bodies across vast swathes of the Ghanaian countryside: on top of the wanton destruction of the eco-systems of many of the areas that contain their watersheds.

Because of the importance of the issue of the  continuing trashing of our country's natural heritage to Ghanaian society that it highlights, today, we are posting the GBA's new year message here, so that this blog's readers who thus far have not been able to access it, can peruse it too.

Incidentally, amongst other issues mentioned in the GBA's new year message, is the plight of the Gambia and the need to ensure that the wishes of the majority of ordinary Gambians who voted to elect a new president, President-elect Adama Barrow, for their country, are respected.

In that regard, it calls on the  sub-regional body, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to make sure that President Jammeh steps down at the end of his tenure, on 19th January, 2017, as stipulated in that country's Constitution.

Bravo to the GBA for its pro-people new year message!

Please read on:


The GBA notes that while 2016 has been a challenging year in many respects, it ended on a positive note with Ghanaians, once again, demonstrating to Africa and the world, their democratic credentials, love for peace and their resolve to be governed by the rule of law.

As we take stock of the events in our nation and our continent Africa, we cannot but remind ourselves of the leadership role that lawyers are expected to play in the defence of Democracy, the Rule of Law, and in attaining the promise of liberty for all persons regardless of wealth and social status. We should also not lose sight of the hardships occasioned by the several conflicts and wars on our continent.

The GBA deplores the indiscriminate and rampant pollution of our water bodies and our environment in general by "Galamsay” operators and reiterates the need for institutions mandated to protect our water bodies to fulfill their mandate in order to curb the danger of a severe water crisis in the near future. The GBA also notes with serious concern the pathetic response of state institutions to deal with illegal foreigners and their Ghanaian accomplices in the small scale (Galamsay) mining activities and urges the relevant institutions to take the needed steps to protect the environment.

The GBA calls upon the incoming administration to take a very serious look at the environmental pollution issues facing the nation.

The Ghana Bar Association has noted with concern the strike action of the Association of State Attorneys which has had a crippling effect on the administration of justice in the country, particularly the rights of remand prisoners and other accused persons currently on trial.

As a new government is taking office, the GBA will plead with the Association of State Attorneys to return to work to afford the incoming government the opportunity to acquaint itself with their grievances and concerns.

The GBA is mindful that the issues leading to the strike have been long outstanding and will appeal to the incoming government, which coincidentally is headed by a former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, will deal with these matters expeditiously to bring finality and closure to all matters affecting the terms and conditions of the employment of State Attorneys.

The Ghana Bar Association notes with serious concern the situation in The Gambia where President, Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh who initially conceded defeat and agreed to leave office at the end of his tenure has changed his mind, and has purported to unilaterally annul the election results and has refused to hand over power to the winner of the election, Adama Barrow, at the expiration of his constitutional term.

The GBA unequivocally condemns the actions of President Yahya Jammeh of The Gambia and in solidarity with The Gambia Bar Association, we urge our sub-region and the international community to take all necessary action to stop this brazen constitutional coup d’état in The Gambia.

The GBA reminds member states of ECOWAS, of the “ constitutional convergence principles” embodied in Section 1 of the ECOWAS PROTOCOL A/SP1/12/01 on Democracy and Good Governance Supplementary to the Protocol relating to the Mechanism for Conflict Prevention, Management, Resolution, Peacekeeping and Security, which affirmed that “Every accession to power must be made through free, fair and transparent elections.

The Protocol also affirms the principle that “The party and or candidate who loses the elections shall concede defeat to the political party and or candidate finally declared the winner, following the guidelines and within the deadline stipulated by the law”.

The GBA therefore urges ECOWAS to ensure that the principles enshrined in the Supplementary Protocol are enforced in The Gambia.

The GBA calls on all Judges and lawyers in The Gambia not to be part of any charade or judicial chicanery aimed at perpetuating the stay in power of a defeated candidate against the freely expressed wishes of the people of The Gambia.

The GBA urges countries on our continent to resolve and commit to working towards entrenching democracy, support for the Rule of Law and opening up the governance processes in African countries in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

The GBA finally urges all lawyers and judges to individually sign and commit to the principles of professional integrity and ethical conduct enshrined in the anti-corruption compact agreement, an initiative by the International Bar Association which is aimed at fighting corruption and protecting judicial integrity.

As we enter the New Year, the GBA is encouraged to note that we, as a people have remained committed to the democratic path. However, there is the need for us to continue to take inspiration from the ideals and aspirations in the 1992 Constitution as we seek to assure a better life for the citizens and residents of Ghana.

It is the hope of the GBA that the ideals of the 1992 Constitution can inspire us all in our shared journey to build a better future for ourselves, our children and generations yet unborn.
The Ghana Bar Association wishes every Ghanaian a Happy and Prosperous New Year.


End of the GBA's new year message.

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