NMJD urges gov’t to transform National Mineral & Artisanal Mining Policies into Law 

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July 23, 2018

By Jariatu S. Bangura

nmj
Members of the High table

Lead Person of the Network Movement for Justice and Development (NMJD), Abu A. Brima, has urged government, through the Parliamentary Committee on Mines and Minerals Resources, to urgently transform the draft National Minerals and the Artisanal Mining Policies following a nation-wide consultation in predominantly mining communities for their inputs.

Speaking, Chairman of the Mines and Mineral Resources Committee, Hon. Saa Emerson Lamina, commended NMJD for honouring their invitation to Parliament to help address mining challenges in the country, noting that mining laws and regulations have become obsolete, thus the need to be revised even though government, through Parliament, had made strides in enacting the Extractive Revenue Act of 2018.

Hon Lamina said that since 1930, diamond mining law had been enacted but that there were no regulations to protect or guide artisanal mining, adding that committee members were more than ready to make the regulations with the help of the civil society and the state.

“We are ready to respect the laws and human rights of the people. Parliament is a bridge between the state and civil society organisations. We are ready to bringing legislations that will bring development to the country and also promote gender issues,” he said.

Addressing committee members, Abu Brima described the invitation as a unique opportunity and that they were ready to lend support to parliament in order to support effort in making the country a better place.

He added that parliament and civil society organisations work on the same path of seeking the interest of citizens.

Brima averred that government has made a number of commitments to improve the governance of the mining sector, and that such commitments were articulated in the Sierra Leone People’s Party Manifesto, the presidential speech during the State Opening of Parliament and at the inauguration ceremony.

He opined that if government wants the country to benefit from mining, promote environmental protection, tackle climate change, protect community rights and secure livelihoods, they must do something drastic and urgent about bad laws which do not make sufficient provisions for citizen’s ownership and control of their resources.

The NMDJ lead person observed that weak enforcement of laws in the country, coupled with inadequate government monitoring of mining companies and lack of political will have given rise to untold suffering of mining affected communities, adding that the mining and extractive sector has been characterised by increased insecurity of citizens and human rights abuses of community people on whose land mining companies operate.

“Government should urgently review and align our mining laws and regulations – the National Mineral Agency Act 2009 – in line with the African Mining Vision, the ECOWAS Minerals Development Policy and other international instruments on mining and human rights, including ‘Free Prior Informed Consent,” he said.

He noted that the destruction of the environment and abuse of human rights in the mining sector have contributed to decline in livelihood of mining communities and increased poverty, thus government’s revision of mining instruments should demonstrate willingness on a decision for shared ownership of the mineral wealth.

He stated that attention should be drawn to the Jenkins-Johnston’s Commission of Inquiry and the Government White Paper, released on December 2007, in a bid to resolve outstanding problems caused by mining.

“Government should demilitarise and de-securitise the mining sector to provide security and protection for citizens and communities in mining areas. They should develop international best standards measures and clear regulations for resettlement and compensation as well as adequate provision for relocation of citizens and communities affected by mining,” he recommended.

Meanwhile, Hon. Lamina promised that recommendations made by Mr. Brima would be looked into thoroughly before submission to the whole House, prior to discussion with the Ministry of Mines and Mineral Resources and National Minerals Agency on the way forward.