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17.11.2002 General News

AGC Accused of Human Rights Abuses

By Public Agenda
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Behind the seeming good performance of Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC) this year are charges of human rights abuses in communities where it operates.

The Wassa Association of Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM) have invited the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) to investigate human rights abuses meted out to individuals and communities living in the concessions of Ashanti Goldfields Company (AGC).

In a letter addressed to the commissioner dated November 13, the executive director of WACAM, Daniel Owusu-Koranteng said his organisation is compelled to call state intervention in order to end the continuous suffering of the people.

"Undoubtedly, AGC is a powerful multinational company and has used its might to violate the rights of individuals and communities with impudence." Owusu-Koranteng said.

To buttress his point, Owusu-Koranteng revealed a pathetic case of the arrest and detention of a community volunteer, Clement Scot, for merely delivering letters from the communities to AGC management.

Without any provocation, the securities forces of AGC, allegedly acting on the instructions of AGC Public Relations Officer and Samuel Blay, the AGC Security Chief on November 8, 2002 arrested and sent to Scot to the Obuasi Police.

Scot was detained and released the following day after the intervention of human rights activists.

Wacam said it is also horrified by the practice of AGC security men releasing wild dogs to harass anybody seen picking stones that fall from trucks conveying gold ore from mine site.

One such victim is Amos Abu who was arrested on March 25, 2002, by AGC security men on suspicion of illegal galamsey. Two wild dogs were unleashed to inflict wounds over Abu's body

It is alleged that Abu was detained in private cells of AGC overnight. "We condemn brutal actions of AGC and view them as reminiscent of apartheid and call on the public to join the struggle against corporate molestation and excessive display of power." Koranteng said.

Wacam said it is surprising that AGC that was the first company to sign on the UN' global compact project which enjoins respect for human rights as one of its pilliars could take the law into its hands and violate the rights of ordinary citizen."

The corporate Affairs manager of AGC, James Ananman told Public Agenda on telephone that preliminary information reaching him from Obuasi indicate when Scot went to AGC premises he gave conflicting statements when questioned. His conflicting statement raised the suspicion of the security ment who called in the police. Ananman insisted that it was not AGC who detained the victim. On the question of guard dogs being released on people, he says it is an exaggeration of what actually happened. He however question what the people who picked the stones were going to use them for. "The guard dogs are there for a purpose." He said.

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