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The Minister of Lands and Natural Resources Kwaku Asomah-Cheremeh has revealed that 194 foreign nationals have been deported because of illegal mining.
Speaking at a media encounter on Thursday morning, the Minister alluded to the controversy surrounding the deportation of Chinese national Aisha Huang.
Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh suggested that the claims that government was favouring ties with the Chinese over prosecuting illegal mining were misplaced.
“Should somebody tell you that it is only one person that has been exchanged for Sino[hydro] projects or Sino loans, it is neither here nor there. We are talking of 194 foreigners that have been deported. Not only Chinese.”
The Senior Minister, Yaw Osafo-Maafo at a town hall meeting in the United States said Aisha Huang did not face the full prosecution because of the benefits of the Sinohydro deal.
This was met with criticisms and even calls for the Minister’s resignation after he justified the discontinuation of the prosecution.
Aisha Huang had been charged with three counts of undertaking small-scale mining operations, contrary to Section 99 (1) of the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703); providing mining support services without valid registration with the Minerals Commission, contrary to the Minerals and Mining Act, 2006 (Act 703), and the illegal employment of foreign nationals, contrary to the Immigration Act, 2000 (Act 573).
Despite the criticism of the legal system, Mr. Asomah-Cheremeh said the law enforcement “has been effective in curbing the ability of the kingpins to continue their operations.”
“Almost 400 persons have been arrested and subjected to various sanctions all aimed at extinguishing their ability to continue with galamsey operations. These include deportations of some 194 foreign nationals and the imposition of fines of locals as well.”
He added that “the legal framework is being streamlined and strengthened to serve as a deterrent to the illegal activities, while the court system is being streamlined to deal more expeditiously with illegal mining cases brought before them.”