Coalition of NGOs initiates legal action against mining in Atewa forest

A Rocha Ghana, together with other NGOs and individuals, wish to inform the general

public that a notice of civil action against the Government of Ghana has been filed with the

Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Gloria A. Akuffo, over its plans to exploit the Atewa Range Forest for bauxite.

The notice which was filed on Monday, January 13, 2020 is in pursuant to Section 10 of the State Proceeding Act 1998, Act 555. The action intends to protect and safeguard the environment pursuant to the constitutional duty imposed on us under article 41(k) of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992. EcoCare Ghana, Ghana Youth Environment Movement, Save the Frogs Ghana, and several other institutions have affirmed their support to ensure that governments both now and in the future respect the right of Ghanaians to a safe and healthy environment.

We being good citizens, support government’s quest to develop Ghana and, as part of such efforts, to raise funds through various endeavours including exploiting the country’s resources. However, it is the case that Ghana does not need to exploit the Atewa Forest bauxite reserves since there are far richer bauxite reserves according to information available to government and to the entire Ghanaian populace. Also, considering the critical importance of the Atewa Forest Range to Ghana’s water supply system, biodiversity and natural climate change adaptation, it would be best not to exploit the Atewa Range Forest.

The notice has been served bearing in mind several constitutional actions to draw government’s attention to the fact that mining in the Atewa Forest would be very detrimental.

We, together with over 20 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) both local and international, have embarked on a series of campaigns to steer government away from its decision. 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.

It is against this background that we serve the notice to bring a legal suit against the Government of Ghana should they fail to exclude Atewa Range Forest from the bauxite mining project. It is unfortunate that we have to fight our own government to protect the environment.

The intended Reliefs of the notice include:

  1. Declaration that the right to life and dignity as enshrined in the Constitution of Ghana, 1992 which includes (a) the right to a clean and healthy environment and (b) the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations.
  2. A declaration that mining bauxite in the Atewa Forest violates the right to life and dignity enshrined under articles 13 and 15 of the Constitution.
  3. An order, compelling the Government of Ghana and its agents to take the necessary steps to protect Atewa Forest Range in accordance with constitutional obligations as contained under article 36(9) of the constitution.
  4. An order, restraining the Government of Ghana, its assigns and agents, servants, workmen, allottees and guarantees whatsoever and howsoever described from undertaking mining and its related activities in the Atewa Forest Range.