Environmental Rights Group Scoops Top Award

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By Staff Reporter

Mutare: Local environmental watchdog, Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust (GGZT) has won the Global Innovation Justice Challenge bankrolled by Netherlands based organisation HiiL.

Igor from Ukraine scooped the top award while Luma Law from South Africa came second with GGZT settling for third position.

The HiiL Justice Innovation programme seeks to support justice innovators with support ranging from Justice Entrepreneurship School, seed money, workshops and support from experienced mentors for them to improve the impact and effectiveness of their legal innovations.

Under this project, GGZT is running a programme called TheLegal4ArtisinalMining (Legal4ASM).

This is a platform which delivers legal assistance to artisanal miners and their service provider through providing an accessible, affordable and user-friendly service for them to get redress and recourse.

GGZT director Frank Mpahlo said Legal4ASM provides artisanal miners and mining service providers legal advice when they encounter injustice within their line of work.

“The programme consists of activities such as mobile legal aid clinics and walk-in centres which clients visit to get pro bono legal advice and paid legal services for active assistance such as representation in court and legal drafting,” said Mpahlo.

He said their initiative takes a bottom-up approach towards ensuring that the rights of artisanal miners and small-scale miners are protected.

“While efforts to formalise and regularise their operations should be pushed, it is the current abuse they face which seek to address and affording them convenient and accessible legal service,” said the director.

Mpahlo said the artisanal and small-scale mining is a growing and thriving sector in the country with over 40 000 miners.

“The sector is growing and thriving, but it remains unregulated and vulnerable to corruption and human rights abuse for miners and small-scale mining companies,” he said, adding, “lack of knowledge and representation by the miners make them vulnerable to injustices such as dispossession of mining claims, arbitrary arrest and entering into unfair agreement.”

Under their projects, Mpahlo said, clients have access to programme telephone hotline which mitigates incidences of violation of rights of artisanal miners through legal means and mediation of conflicts between ASMers and law enforcement units, mining authorities and mining investors.

“To date, Legal4ArtisinalMiners has recorded 61 complaints from 59 people (46 male and 13 females involving conflict between artisanal miners, mining authorities and mining companies. These include contracting conflicts, dispossession of mining claims, arbitrary arrest and unfair fining,” he said.

The director said in the next five months, they intend to digitise the service by establishing a Chat box so as to expand its reach to 40 people per month and improve effectiveness.