Halt eviction of Ada East Salt miners from Songor – Parliament urged

Ada Songor Lagoon
Ada Songor Lagoon

The Ada East District Assembly’s recent issuance of an eviction notice to salt farmers in the district has sparked controversy and concerns over potential human rights abuses.

The notice demanded that over 10,000 salt farmers vacate their ancestral lands by December 31, 2023, amid ongoing parliamentary and Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) investigations into allegations of widespread human rights abuses, threats of violence, and fatalities linked to the large-scale government allocation of salt mining rights to Electrochem Ghana, a multinational corporation.

The contested lands, situated along the shores of the Songor Lagoon at Ada in the Greater Accra Region are home to more than 20 communities whose livelihoods and cultural identity are deeply intertwined with the practice of sustainable salt production.

The threat to evict these communities has ignited concerns as Electrochem Ghana seeks industrial expansion on a 41,000-acre leasehold granted by the Government of Ghana in October 2020.

The First Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Joseph Osei Owusu, has taken notice of the situation, directing the Committee on Lands and Forestry and Mines and Energy to investigate the leasehold agreement that enabled Electrochem Ghana’s salt mining operations in Ada.

The committee’s findings are expected to shed light on the need for amendments to ensure indigenous Ada communities benefit from the concession and to investigate a recent shooting incident in the area that resulted in one fatality and multiple injuries.

Awudu Salami Sulemana Yoda, the Director of The Environment Report, raised these human rights concerns in a statement dated December 29, 2023.

”In light of the ongoing investigations, The Environment Report urges the Ada East District Assembly to immediately withdraw the eviction notice, allowing Parliament to complete its probe,” he said via the report.

The report emphasised the importance of adhering to the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, urging both Parliament and the Local Government Authority to push for their operationalisation.

According to the statement, the escalating business-related human rights issues involving Electrochem and the communities in Ada attracted attention during the 4th Cycle Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations.

CHRAJ has commissioned a report on these developments, highlighting their critical implications for Ghana’s adherence to UN business and human rights guidelines.

The Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, developed by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, remain non-operational in Ghana.

Awudu Salami Sulemana Yoda emphasised the importance of implementing these principles to foster peace and harmony between corporate institutions and the communities they operate in.

As the investigations unfold, stakeholders await parliamentary action and the withdrawal of the eviction notice to ensure the protection of human rights and the preservation of the livelihoods and cultural heritage of the affected communities.

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