Land owners affected by Newmont’s Akyem mining project, have dragged the mining company to the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the United Nations Commission on Human Rights over alleged unjust compensation.
In a petition to the two institutions, signed by Mr. Demkyira Ntiamoah, the Chairman of the Newmont Akyem Affected Farmers Association (NAAFA) and copied to the United States Embassy and the media, the affected land owners, predominantly farmers, called for investigations by an international body to ensure that they were adequately compensated.
“We are kindly appealing to you to, as a matter of urgency, engage international investigators into the issue so that if the company is found to have cheated or exploited or illegally deprived we the farmers and land owners of our livelihood, they should be directed to halt their operations until the case is completed in court,” the petitioners demanded.
The land owners, from Akyem Afosu, New Abirem, Mamanso, Yayaaso, Adausena, Hwekwae and Ntronang in the Birim North District of the Eastern Region averred that the land on which Newmont Ghana Ltd. was mining, was their inheritance from their ancestors.
They indicated that some years ago they were ordered to vacate their farmlands for Newmont to begin mining for 15 years with the promise of fair, prompt and adequate compensation for crops on the land and the lands to be affected by the activities of the company would be paid to them.
“They also promised to make our living standards better than they came to meet, and to provide for the project-affected persons jobs and contracts since our source of livelihood has taken away from them for the project,” they claimed.
They further alleged that an illegal Negotiation Committee was set up under the supervision of the company, instead of direct, one-on-one negotiation as stipulated by Law during that period.
According to Mr. Ntiamoah, they had lodged complaints with chiefs, government officials on several occasions without results and even staged series of demonstrations to press home their demands.
He said: “We protested by demonstrating but unfortunately, instead of addressing our issues they rather collaborated with our Chiefs and other highly placed officials and they invited the Ghana Police and they shot one person dead and several injured.”
Undaunted, the farmers went to court to seek redress and have been waiting for the determination of the case.
They, however, want the international bodies to also intervene to investigate the matter, as, according to them, Newmont’s actions constitute a violation of their fundamental rights to their property.
“We are kindly appealing to you to, as a matter of urgency, engage international investigators into the issue so that if the company is found to have cheated or exploited or illegally deprived we the farmers and Land owners of our livelihood, they should be directed to halt their operations until the case is completed in court,” they requested.
The total area of land affected is 1,903 hectares, forest area affected is 74 hectares and number of individuals affected is 1,829.