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Community activists in Paralegal training workshop

Improving  Access to Justice; CEPIL’s Paralegal Handbooks assisting Advocates in mining-affected Communities

The provision of education materials to paralegal trainees in mining-affected communities in the northern part of the country is yielding some positive results.

The paralegal trainees say the handbooks given to them after a series of capacity-building workshops are being used as reference materials in their advocacy work in their respective communities.  

 Beneficiaries of the paralegal training which was organised by the Centre for Public Interest Law ( CEPIL ) with support from the Ford Foundation say they more often than not use the manual as a reference material for their advocacy work.

The handbooks  contain chapters that discuss Laws governing the Mining sector  in Ghana Environmental Impact Assessment in the Mining Sector Human Rights Advocacy,Human Rights Education, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Civil and Political Rights among other relevant topics.

Touting the benefits of the paralegal handbook, Mr  Aziz Nuhu, a paralegal trainee from Funsi in the Upper West Region submitted, “During the training, they gave us a book, a paralegal book or document, when I returned to my community refer to the document to refresh your mind whenever an issue is brought before me.  

Also, Mr. Zuma Baba Yaro, a resident of  Talensi in the Upper East Region, stated that when members of his community bring an issue to him,  he refers to the paralegal handbook that was given to them during the training to determine whether they have a case or not.

Mr Yaro said,” So far, I have led people who have won cases in magistrate courts in Navrongo,  Bolga, and Zebilla. And so the  CEPIL training has enlightened me. At a point,  even a judge had to call me a pocket lawyer. Had it  not been the CEPIL’s  training, all  this interest would  have died.”

He added,“Initially,I just didn’t have the confidence in even leading people to the police or the courts but at a time I reflect and read the handbooks that they gave us then it tells me that this one the person has a case so despite all the intimidation and monies being thrown out, the law can work.           

Mr Ezekiel Azure, a paralegal trainee from ZEBILLA, said the training has benefited him because before he took part in the training, he did not know about Ghana’s mining regulations and the processes involved for mining companies to start operations.

“But in the training, I was made to know about the regulations the mining  Laws,  the processes a mining community is supposed to pass through before it comes into a community. Through  the  CEPIL’s  paralegal training, we were equipped with this knowledge and experience.”

Among the objectives of the paralegal training was 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.

The training was also meant to 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.

By: Mohammed Suleman/ Publicagenda.news

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