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Mr Wonder Setsoafia Deynu and Ms Cordelia Detadem Ashiagbor

‘Equip the youth with legal knowledge on Human Rights’- Activists urge CEPIL  

A section of the youth  in the Keta Municipality of the Volta region have called on the Centre  for Public Interest  Law( CEPIL) and other stakeholders  to commit more resources towards training youth activists in mining affected communities to become paralegals.

According to them, when activists and community members in mining-affected areas are equipped with knowledge on issues relative to human rights, it would help them to understand situations better and to prevent the people from being shortchanged.    

In recent times there has been an upsurge in mining-induced violent resistance within the vicinity of Keta lagoon in Ghana that questions the legitimacy of ongoing large-scale salt production by Kensington Salt Industries Ltd. Between 2013 and 2017, there was a series of violent protests and clashes at Adina and adjoining communities at the eastern banks of Keta lagoon, leading to deaths and to destruction of the company’s property and equipment.

The upsurge of mining-induced violent resistance in Keta follows the displacement of thousands of indigenes and growing state preference for large-scale projects in the salt sector.

 The above background emphasizes the need to equip the youth with the requisite knowledge to be able to engage effectively with mining firms and duty bearers to avoid conflicts among other human right violations

Mr Wonder Setsoafia  Deynu, Member, Youth for  the  Environment and Coastal Protection (YECP) stated in  an interview  with  Public Agenda that  it would be prudent for activists  to have basic knowledge in Mineral and Mining law, especially on issues of  compensation, procedures for the resettlement of communities as well as  conflict resolution.

Mr Deynu was among the community activists and leaders who were offered paralegal training by the Centre for Public Interest Law (CEPIL) with funding from the Ford Foundation.

After benefiting from the various models of the training provided by CEPIL he feels it is time for more activists to be trained for the purposes  of  demanding accountability.

 He told Public Agenda, we want stakeholders to take this up like CEPIL has done so that they can train more of our people to become paralegals. There is a lot of salt mining and sand winning   going on in the keta basin so our people need the knowledge to enable them to engage the companies.’”

On the paralegal training he undertook, he indicated that it was insightful and gave him deeper understanding on the human rights perspective of the mining sector.

 “Our people need to know  their basic Human right to be able to argue or make a point, but they cannot do  this when  they are not armed with that knowledge or information to do so.  That’s why we are calling for more training,”Mr Deynu

On her part, Ms Cordelia Detadem Ashiagbor, a beneficiary of CEPIL’s Paralegal training  said she is  using the Alternative  Dispute Resolution Mechanism to resolve minor problems within her extended family .

she said the  lessons  she  leant At the  workshop has empowered her  as she is now  able to identify and resolve  issues  that she  feels when  left unattended  to, could  degenerate  into something big.

She  also urged stakeholders  to have more of  the  youth  activists across the country  trained  as  paralegals so that they can  ask  relevant questions  and effectively engaged mining firms.   

The three-day training aimed at equipping the participants with basic legal knowledge and skills in mining and human rights laws to help identify and address instances of injustice and abuses within the various communities.

Mr Augustine Niber, the Executive Director for CEPIL, said it was necessary to engage and build up focal persons, who would understand the work of human rights paralegals, the Ghanaian judicial system, and alternative dispute resolution in the mining communities.

Mr Joel Degue, one of the participants, lauded CEPIL for the engagement and appealed that the initiative should be maintained and carried out in every region in the country.

Mr. Degue indicated that the training was an eye-opener and had enhanced his professional expertise.

He pledged his commitment as an environmental activist to document all issues of rights violations and advocacy on mining issues in his district.

By Mohammed Suleman/Publicagenda.news

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