Residents of Kenyase a small farming community in the Brong Ahafo Region say they will resist any attempt by the US State Department to award Newmont Ghana Gold Limited for its excellence in human rights practice in Ghana.
The residents say Newmont Ghana Gold Limited does not deserve the award since its human rights record in Kenyase where it operates a concession is appalling.
In a three page petition to the US State department filed on 11th February 2016, the residents outlined a number of brutalities they have suffered in the hands of Newmont Ghana Gold Limited.
PETITION AGAINST THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICE IN GHANA TO NEWMONT BY U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT
We the undersigned people living in Kenyase where Newmont Ghana Gold Limited is operating its Ahafo mine have learnt that Newmont Corporation is a finalist for the award of excellence in human rights practice in Ghana to be awarded by the U.S. State Department.
We are compelled to petition against the award of excellence in human rights practice in Ghana. Our petition is premised on the human rights violations that the indigenous people of Kenyase, Ntotroso and surrounding areas have suffered since Newmont started operating its Ahafo Mine.
Before the advent of the company’s operations, Kenyase and surrounding communities were prosperous farming communities with clean environment. This situation has changed and our communities have become areas of conflict because of the negative social, economic and environmental consequences of the operations of Newmont Ahafo mine. We catalogue below some of the cases of human rights abuses to buttress our petition:
Military brutalities against the people of Ntotroso
On 6th of June 2006, the people of Ntotroso which is one of the communities affected by the operations of Newmont embarked on a demonstration to complain about the effects of Newmont’s operations on the people. The military who were transported into the Ntotroso community in Newmont vehicles attacked the demonstrators and entered homes and brutalised even people who were not part of the demonstration including Nana Apraku a blind man and a former Chief of Ntotroso was brutalised by the military in his home. Some of the victims of the military brutalities meted out to the people of Ntotroso in the incident aforementioned include but not limited to Nana Apraku a blind man and an ex-chief of Ntotroso, Alhaji Sani, Rose Djan, Akosua Safoa and Ruth Ntim.
Newmont Ahafo Mine provided logistics such as food and transport to the military to carry out the intimidation of the Ntotroso community after the military raid of the community which caused many of the indigenous people including old people and children to flee from the community for fear of brutalisation by the military.
On 2nd September 2005, ex-employees of Newmont who were laid off by Newmont demonstrated against the company for non-payment of redundancy award. The Police shot at the demonstrators and wounded some of them.
Cyanide spillage of Newmont Ahafo Mine and discharge of faecal waste in Community Rivers.
On 8th September 2009 Newmont Ahafo Mine spilled cyanide into river Yaakye which flows into River Subri. Though the spillage affected the Community Rivers, Newmont tried to hide the effect of the cyanide. It took NGOs such as Wacam and the affected community people to expose Newmont’s attempt to hide the effect. As a result of the attempt of Newmont to hide the cyanide spillage, the government of Ghana imposed a fine which was equivalent to $5 million on Newmont.
Similarly, Newmont discharged faecal matter into some rivers in 2005. The community people complained about the disposal of faecal waste into River Asuopre by Newmont. The river served as the drinking water for some of the communities located downstream of the river especially Asuopre community. Newmont paid compensation of about $ 14 and a hamper comprising a bag of rice, a gallon oil, and 4 tins of corned beef to the affected people. Some of the affected people have instituted legal action against the company on this case which is pending
Military brutalities against the people of Kantinka
Kantinka is a farming community where Newmont Ahafo Mine has created Rock Waste Dump which has surrounded the village. The establishment of the Rock Waste Dump which is about 50 metres from the community has created problems for the people of Kantinka such as dust pollution, noise pollution, floods, and sicknesses among others. Despite persistent demands of the people of Kantinka for the payment of compensation for destroyed farms and the resettlement of the people by Newmont because of the extreme hardships created for the people of Kantinka by the operations of Newmont, the company has not heeded to the demands of people.
Newmont has refused to build houses for some farmers in the Subika East expansion project with the excuse that the owners of the farm houses in the affected areas have relatives resettled in the past so they do not qualify for resettlement houses. Some of the people who got compensation for their farm houses received compensation as low as five hundred Ghana Cedi (500.00 about US$130) in the Kantinka community.
The people of Kantinka undertook a demonstration to prevent Newmont from continuously dumping rock waste on them without negotiating and payment of compensation for the community people to relocate. A joint security team of military and Newmont security who were transported in vehicles belonging to Newmont attacked the peaceful demonstrators of Kantinka and brutalised the people on 29th June 2015.
Some members of Kantinka community who suffered injuries from the brutalities included Peter Effah and Madam Debora Fosu. Some of the community people were beaten, arrested and sent to the Kenyase Police Station where they were granted bail.
Environmental and Safety problems
The operations of Newmont is creating environmental and safety problems for the people. There have been situations where some community people have been drowned in the environmental dams of the company. For example three people have been drowned in the Subri dam with the latest being a community person by name Issaka.
Newmont’s operations have created environmental and safety problems for people in communities such as Yaro Grumah Community where the operations of Newmont had polluted River Apensu.
Newmont has created a barrier at the entrance of road that leads to Ananekrom with state police and the company’s security who harass the community people. This has denied the community members free access to their community thereby restricting their freedom of movement. There have been some instances when pregnant women were carried on human back and others delivering when they were carried on human back and others delivering when they were compelled to walk to the road side to board vehicles. Also sick people and others who had snake bites were carried on human back to the road side before boarding vehicles to hospitals.
When the Member of Parliament for Asutifi North, Mr Joseph Daha and a team of Parliamentarians, Ministers of States from Senegal and NGOs were on a visit to Yaro Grumah on 30th of August 2015, the team was denied access to the Yaro Grumah community which is part of his electoral area because Newmont has erected a barrier on the access road. The denial of assess roads is not limited to Yaro Grumah community. The State Fire Service sent their fire tender with serine signalling that lives and properties were in danger to Ntotroso where there was an outbreak of fire. The only access road was NGGL’s Ntotroso by-pass road which leads to Amomah pit and which could be used by fire service. The sad thing was that the company which claims to be observing the best safety practices denied the fire service access to use their road, disregarding the fact that there was a gas filling station close to the source of the fire outbreak.
Based on a petition signed by over 1,500 community people against the Ahafo project, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of USA reviewed the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) document of the Newmont Ahafo mine which revealed serious weaknesses in the EIA of the Newmont Ahafo Mine.
The resettlement of affected communities and the payment of low compensation which does not have bearing in the law and do not restore the livelihoods of the people have resulted in the exacerbation of poverty in the affected communities.
We can say without doubt that it is in consideration of these gross human rights violations that the organisers of the Public Eye award conferred on Newmont two Public Eye awards for irresponsible corporate behaviours in January 2009. The Public Eye awards are shaming awards given to companies that have been complicit to human rights violations. The situation that necessitated Newmont winning the Public Eye Award has not changed
It is in the light of the aforementioned that we request the US State Department not to grant this prestigious award to Newmont Ghana Gold Limited.