Home » Breaking News » Activists pledge to defend human rights violations as ElectroChem takes over Songor Lagoon  
Mr Apetorgbor Albert Adivortey, Doris Anim and Betty Sackey are trained paralegals

Activists pledge to defend human rights violations as ElectroChem takes over Songor Lagoon  

Rights Activists in Ghana’s foremost salt producing enclave, Ada Songor, in the Greater Accra Region have vowed to use legitimate means to resist any attempt by salt mining companies to violate the rights of indigenes of the area.

They want existing and prospective companies to use proper community entry protocols especially Free, Prior, and Informed Consent (FPIC) to get the buy-in of the people before they can begin operations.

Such protocols, according to them, help to prevents conflict while allowing indigenes to engage in negotiations to shape the design, implementation of projects impacting their area.

The concerns of the activists followed the granting of a total area of 41,000 acres of the Ada Songor lagoon to ElectroChem Ghana Limited, a move which is predicted to threaten the generations-long role of ASM salt production, a sector mainly dominated by women.

The acquisition of the concession by ElectroChem Ghana Limited has led to a number of clashes between the indigenes and some staff members of the company.

Sections of the people are also accusing the Police, the Municipal Assembly and the Traditional Authority of joining forces with the company to dispossess them of their livelihoods.

 In an interview with this reporter, Mr. Apetorgbor Albert Adivortey, a retired Civil Servant indicated that as  indigenes of Ada Songor, they would not sit aloof and allow companies to short change them as  they will use the little  knowledge  they have acquired to fight for what rightly belongs to them.       

Mr Adivortey was one of the community leaders who were offered paralegal training by the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) with funding from the Ford Foundation.

He said he and  his colleagues would continue to use the Knowledge and skills they have acquired as a result of the paralegal training to engage any company that comes to mine salt in the area.     

He argued that Mining-affected communities have been shortchanged for far too long, leaving indigenes with no alternative livelihood, therefore the time has come for members of these affected communities to stand up and fight for their rights.

  He said community members are leaving in fear in the Ada Songor area because powers that be come after people who are seen to be vocal.

The Ada Songor Lagoon

Mr Adivortey added “There is  also the  suppression of  freedom of speech by both the traditional council  and ElectroChem, if you come out with anything against them which is even the truth, you’ll see them chasing you which  is not good.

“Recently a guy was shot and killed and up till now they cannot get the culprit. Now, ElectroChem is refusing to take responsibility of the killings and I don’t know what the police is doing, so almost every time you will see the  police on the side of eletrochem, and who defends the  indigenes. If the police is not defending them, the traditional authorities who are also the custodians of everything are also not protecting their citizens then you can understand the plight of the citizens.”

 “So we as paralegals have onerous task to perform. Another thing which  we will be doing when we meet is that, we will  publish  our  names  by way of writing letters and  distributing them to the  agencies  involved;  the court, the  police, the  traditional council  and  some of the chiefs around, so that they should know that there is a group existing as  paralegals. We will state our   duties and responsibilities so that when we appear before them they will know that these are the people who introduced themselves to them.”

 He stated that the training by CEPIL has been very beneficial to him.

Doris Anim, a Member of the Ada Songor Advocacy Forum and a beneficiary of CEPIL’s paralegal training said few  month  after  the training was  contacted by  one of  the salt mining companies which  is  preparing the  grounds  to start mining in Ada  East to solicit her input as a community activist.

For her, it is a sign of recognition and she would forever be grateful to CEPIL for the opportunity to be part of the paralegal  training.    

 On her part, Ms Betty Sackey, Coordinator AYONGO Foundation who is also a Paralegal trainee said as a stakeholder, she had received a letter from ElectroChem for her organization to be engaged by the company to help identify the needs of the people in the area before the company begins its operations.

 Madam Betty sees this as a positive sign in her advocacy work and that the knowledge she had acquire would assist her to effectively engage with the company on issues relative to alternative livelihoods for the women in the area and matters bothering on compensation.

  By: Mohammed Suleman/Publicagenda.news           


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