Persons who contribute to the pollution of the environment have been treated with kid gloves for far too long, according to the Majority Leader in Parliament, Osei Kyei Mensah-Bonsu has said.
Given the precarious state of Ghana’s natural resources like vegetation and water bodies, Mr. Mensah-Bonsu believes that taking lives to protect the environment is justified by the constitution.
The Majority Leader made these remarks in Parliament on Tuesday after the Minority Leader, Haruna Idrissu, had described the recent burning of trucks and equipment used for sand winning in the Dalun River by soldiers of Operation Vanguard as “extrajudicial” and “excessive”.
The Minority in Parliament continued its condemnation of the incident in Parliament when the Defence Minister, Dominic Nitiwul, appeared to answer for the actions of Operation Vanguard, the government’s anti-illegal mining task-force.
The Minority legislators from the Northern Region have even said they will back any legal action against the state following the incident.
But Mr. Mensah-Bonsu argued that the actions of Operation Vanguard were well within the remit of the law.
“I do not think that the constitution, in so far as a matter is criminal, frowns upon the use of force to the extent that it may even deprive some other people of their lives. The constitution does not talk about that at all… Mr. Speaker, if we agree that what was going on was criminal, the constitution doesn’t forbid any person trying to prevent the commission of that crime from pursuing that person and asserting force which may even result in death.”
He also quoted Article 13 of the Constitution which says “no person shall be deprived of his life intentionally except in the exercise of the execution of a sentence of a court in respect of a criminal offence under the laws of Ghana of which he has been convicted.”
The article adds that: “A person shall not be held to have deprived another person of his life in contravention of clause (1) of this article if that other person dies as the result of a lawful act of war or if that other person dies as the result of the use of force to such an extent as is reasonably justifiable in the particular circumstances: for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property; or in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained; or for the purposes of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or in order to prevent the commission of a crime by that person.”
Destruction of environment ‘indefensible’
Mr. Mensah-Bonsu thus argued further that “if a robber comes to you, and you have the competence, he enters your room, you will shoot the person to save your own life. Is that criminality on your part? You should be careful where you are taking this argument.”
He reminded that illegal chainsaw operators were treated with leniency in the ’80s, but at the expense of Ghana’s forest cover.
“We said to ourselves that we should stop them but the argument at the time was that, no, let’s create an alternative livelihood for them. Today, less than 30 years after that, half of our forest cover is gone… Increasingly, we are destroying our environment and we have people who will stand up to defend what is in indefensible. Is that the way we want to grow our country?”
Operation vanguard Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu Delali Adogla-Bessa