BY HANNAH BLYTH
In July 2017, the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources announced the rollout of a new Multi-Sectoral Mining Integrated Project (MMIP) designed to disband small scale illegal mining. The MMIP’s implementation has so far focused only on the immediate security concerns – establishing a permanent joint task force (JTF) of military and police personnel under the banner of Operation Vanguard in Eastern, Ashanti and Western regions. As part of Operation Vanguard, the JTF have enforced a blanket ban on all small-scale mining for the past nine months and are guarding water bodies and land that have been degraded by the mining activities.
Small scale mining in Ghana employs an estimated 1.1 million people, of which two thirds is comprised of artisanal and small-scale gold miners. Locally referred to as ‘galamsey’ (illegal small-scale gold mining), most of the small-scale sector is informal, and has become a politically-charged topic in recent years due to its association with environmental degradation, criminality and illicit trade, with wide ranging impacts on local communities.
During discussions in the Ghana Voluntary Principles Working Group, it was recommended that Operation Vanguard receive specific training on the Voluntary Principles on Security and Human Rights (VPSHR) to better equip officers for engagement in civilian areas and reduce risks of human rights abuses. Global Affairs Canada and the Canadian High Commission in Accra agreed to sponsor the development and delivery of a training module tailored to the Operation Vanguard context. This training module will act as a pilot for a larger curriculum to be developed for all public security institutions in Ghana, as part of the Ghana Government VPSHR National Action Plan.
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