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A photograph of the paralegal trainees

CEPIL provides Paralegal training to activists in mining-affected communities in northern Ghana

The Centre for Public Interest Law,( CEPIL) has offered  Paralegal Training to 50 advocates in mining-affected communities in Northern parts of the country to enable them to engage with duty bearers effectively.

The paralegals would serve as receptors and gatherers of community-level intelligence on breaches of law and violations of the rights of citizens by mining companies.

With funding support from the Ford Foundation, participants were drawn from seven districts in the five regions of the north. However, most participants were from the Upper West and Upper East regions.

The training, which took place recently was meant to equip activists and organized group leaders with basic legal knowledge and skills in the law, to help identify and address instances of injustice and abuses within their communities.

It was also to strengthen the knowledge base of the community activists to serve as focal and referral persons in their respective communities to provide cost-effective legal assistance to their community members, including but not limited to organizing the community to protect their rights, monitoring and documenting human rights violation in their area of operation to be used as evidence in court, while providing basic information to their communities and engaging in alternative ways of resolving legal disputes.

 The trained paralegals are expected to work in a dual capacity by attending to the needs of individuals and the community as a whole. They also serve as a bridge between the communities and CEPIL and other CSOs in seeking redress for human rights violations in their communities.  

Carried out in three different modules, the activity was designed to train and equip these focal persons in the communities with basic legal knowledge on negotiations, the minerals and mining laws, particularly the areas bordering on compensation and the procedures for the resettlement of communities, conflict resolution, and property rights, particularly women.

 Addressing participants, Lawyer Augustine Niber, Executive Director of  CEPIL pointed out that litigation is valuable not only for the results it delivers but also reinforces the confidence of the citizens and communities involved on their rights and the accountability of power holders.

Lawyer Augustine Niber, Executive Director of  CEPIL

Mr. Niber emphasized that capacity building of community leaders and activists on their rights and the obligations and responsibilities of regulatory bodies and mining firms has been of long-lasting value in strengthening the quality of mineral governance.

He noted that one key objective of the training is to contribute to the capacity of CBOs, community leaders, and activists in mining-affected communities for effective expression and engagement with public bodies and mining firms by providing training to improve their knowledge of the mineral governance regime – mining policies, laws, procedures, and human rights issues and the roles and functioning of key institutions.

He said the training would assist in improving access to justice for individuals and groups in project mining communities while redressing the power imbalance in relations between the State, mining firms, and communities.

Since its creation in 1999, CEPIL has occupied and fulfilled a unique role. Two decades on. The Organization remains the only public interest law NGO working on extractive sector issues,

Participants expressed gratitude to the CEPIL for equipping them with legal knowledge while assuring that they would put the training to good use when they return to their communities.

By: Mohammed Suleman/ Publicagenda.news


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