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ARTICLE 19 documentary calls for greater transparency in gold mining industry

(ARTICLE 19/IFEX) - The following is an abbreviated 30 November 2007 ARTICLE 19 press release:

GHANA: ARTICLE 19 launches documentary calling for greater transparency of gold mining industry

For the past two years, ARTICLE 19 has been involved in the production of the documentary "When Silence is Golden", which focuses on the impact of gold mining on local communities in Ghana.

This is a film about the struggles of ordinary people who want their voices to be heard; a portrait of a battle over the right to know, the right to speak and the right to participate in decisions that affect people's life and dignity.

"When Silence is Golden" follows the film's director, Alexandra Sicotte-Lévesque, in her quest to lift the silence on the gold mining activities of a Canadian mining company near a small town in Western Ghana. Through her journey, we meet the inhabitants of the town who, despite government attempts to silence them, cannot hide their anger and are eager to express their grievances. In seeking to explain this complex situation, the film comes face to face with the human rights implications of gold mining operations in Africa - intimidation by soldiers policing the towns to suppress growing tensions, severe contamination of water sources and the possible resettlement of these communities.

The revision of mining codes across Africa has provoked an increase in exploration and mine development, which has deeply affected the situation of thousands of people on the continent. Spillages of toxic substances, such as cyanide, into streams and loss of livelihood are some of the human rights issues faced by communities affected by extractive industries.

Many communities living near mining and exploration sites live in extreme poverty and are uninformed about their rights and unable to voice their grievances to official authorities and corporations.

A vicious circle is thus taking place where the plight of communities affected by extractive industries is silenced whilst poverty increases.

Ghana is the second largest producer of gold in Africa. It also mines diamonds, bauxite and manganese. With the increasing importance of mining in the country's economy there has also been overwhelming evidence of a pattern of human rights violations occasioned by mining.

Working closely with Wassa Association for Communities Affected by Mining (WACAM), ARTICLE 19 will seek over the next year to assist communities affected by extractive industries in accessing information that impacts on their socio-economic situation and environment. It will strengthen community participation in decision-making processes and their contribution to ensuring a sustainable environment, thereby improving their livelihood security.

You can watch the film's trailer here:

The film features Ghanaian music by London's own Afroganic:

The documentary will premiere in London, England on 3 December at 8 p.m. (local time). For the full press release, see:

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