President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo yesterday gave assent to the amended Minerals and Mining Act which seeks to, among other things, prescribe stiffer punishment for illegal mining in the country.
In addition to enhancing the penalties for illegal mining, the new law explicitly criminalises aiding and abetting illegal mining activities and the use of other equipment for mining in water bodies.
It also prescribes a minimum sentence of 15 years and maximum of 25 years for foreigners who engaged in illegal mining.
President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, in an interaction with members of the Council of State at the Jubilee House in Accra, said the amended mining law had taken away the discretionary power of judges whose judgments were not deterrent enough to stop illegal mining.
The meeting with the Council is a quarterly arrangement to enable the members hold brief with the President on pertinent national issues and the decisions of the body.
The President said his decision to assent to the law signified an important step in his war against illegal mining, adding, "The law was brought to me yesterday for my assent so it is now law".
The President said the law had taken away some of the discretions of judges whose judgements were not deterrent enough to stop illegal mining.
According to him, the reason for taking away the discretionary powers was "largely because, with the greatest of respect, they are not cooperating on these matters. People are caught, taken to court and granted bail. And then at the end of the day they disappear.
"All these Chinese people are caught, they have been put before court, granted bail, you don't hear of it again only to hear that they have resurfaced in the country.
"So, we felt it was important to take over the discretion of the judges. It is unfortunate that that should be so because all of us should be able to trust the judges also to do their bit in stamping out crimes and its consequences in our society," the President said.
The President held that there was the need to strengthen institutional arrangements because "many of these things that are happening are a result of delinquency on the part of the state itself."
He cited the recent banking crisis which, according to him, was as a result of the negligence of the Bank of Ghana, adding, "It is imperative that a common meeting ground was reached on the matter."
The chairman of the Council of State, Nana Otuo Siriboe on his part, commended the President for the hard work done to host the AfCFTA Secretariat in Ghana.
He outlined the activities of the Council which includes, meeting with the National Commission on Civic Education (NCCE) relating to vigilantism and how they can collaborate to step it down and presented a copy of the Council's deliberations to the President.