Puff pieces don’t exist in the world of Ghanaian undercover investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas.

Anas is unlike many others in his field and his work goes beyond any sense of traditional journalism. Writing from a metropolitan newsroom, conducting phone interviews and attending press conferences is in no way comparable to committing oneself to a West African mental institution or going undercover as an elderly woman or a rock on the side of a road.

The 30-something year old Ghanaian journalist goes to great lengths to protect his identity and personal details. Despite being one of the most famous men in Ghana, few have seen his face or could pick him out of a crowd. Pictures of him out of disguise show blurred or censored boxes over his face, and he covers his face with string or beads during speaking engagements. Disguised with elaborate costumes and wigs, and armed with hidden cameras, Anas works to stop corruption and seek out law breakers. He has gone undercover to investigate and write on corruption dozens of times, using his signature method of “naming, shaming and jailing.” He has posed as a crooked cop, worked as a janitor inside a brothel and checked himself into the Accra Psychiatric Hospital as a patient.

“Anonymity is my secret weapon that I use very well, and I have a habit of being able to blend in.”

While investigating human rights abuses at the Accra Psychiatric Hospital, Anas underwent a series of psychiatric consults and checks that took place over the course of a month. He says that he studied conditions thoroughly before the sting. To get admitted, he complained of heat in his head, spoke in an extremely repetitive fashion and gave vague answers to direct questions—a range of symptoms that could be attributed to a number of psychiatric disorders. Once inside the hospital, Anas documented his experiences using hidden cameras, passing off memory cards of footage to his colleagues when they would pose as visitors.

“Patients were being physically abused, drugs like cocaine and heroin were being sold to patients by hospital staff,” Anas says. He was prescribed a drug which made him extremely tired, so he took caffeine pills to help him stay awake and alert. He also says that he took cocaine while in the hospital to fit in amongst the other patients.

His extreme methods not only educate, they can produce change: after his psychiatric hospital story was published in a paper he co-owns, The New Crusading Guide, some of the problems he exposed were resolved. His story on child prostitution from his time in the aforementioned brothel helped break two major sex trafficking rings in 2008.

Making a difference is the reason that Anas continues to risk his life to report these stories. “There’s no point in doing journalism that doesn’t lead to society’s progression. Journalism is about your people,” he says.

“My journalism is a product of my society. I have looked carefully at the society that I belong [to] and I have thought that naming, shaming and jailing is the best,” he continues. Anas’s work has sent numerous people to prison and he’s provided evidence to law enforcement and testified in court. His testimony is provided in closed chambers alone with the judge so as to maintain his anonymity.

Read full story here.

Published On: April 24th, 2015 / Categories: News /

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Anas Aremeyaw Anas is a Ghanaian investigative journalist born in the late 1970s. He specializes in print media and documentary and is politically non-aligned focusing on issues of human rights and anti-corruption in sub-Saharan Africa. Anas' motto is "name, shame and jail", and he is famous for utilizing his anonymity as a tool in his investigative arsenal. Very few people had seen his face (until an "unmasking" during a BBC interview in November 2015 —which revealed yet another prosthetic).

Anas has won more than 50 international and local awards for his work advocating basic human rights, such as the right to not be held in human slavery and for his work exposing corruption. His investigative works have won him worldwide acclaim, including President Barack Obama highlighting him in a speech during a 2009 visit to Ghana: "An independent press”, a vibrant private sector, a civil society….those are the things that give life to democracy. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth.”

Anas hail from Bimbilla in Northern Ghana and grew up in Burma Camp, a military barracks in Accra. He attended the Christian Methodist Secondary School and Ghana Institute of Journalism where he got his first diploma before studying his first degree at the University of Ghana. He later attended the Faculty of Law and the Ghana Law School.

After university he turned down an opportunity to work as a reporter for the Ghanaian Times newspaper, instead choosing to join The Crusading Guide newspaper in 1998. The editor of the newspaper, Kweku Baako Jnr, had just been released from jail in the same year. Anas later became co-publisher of The New Crusading Guide, and subsequently opened his own production and investigation company, Tiger Eye PI Media, in 2008.

Anas has collaborated widely with Al-Jazeera and the BBC, among other international clients. In 2017 he started The Tiger Eye Foundation as a media non- profit and 501c3, in the USA and Ghana, that uses a dynamic set of initiatives to promote and elevate the standards in journalism. The foundation educates and supports journalists through hands-on investigative journalism workshops, multimedia boot camps, investigative productions, broadcasts and community outreach programs. Anas was called to the Bar in 2013, and since then has mostly defended himself in court.

In December 2015 Foreign Policy magazine named Anas one of 2015's leading global thinkers, an honour previously granted to the likes of Barack Obama, Pope Benedict XVI, and Malala Yousafzai. He is consistently invited to talk on his work at gatherings all around the world and in March 2016, Anas was invited by Harvard Law School as a keynote speaker to share his experiences creating change on the continent of Africa. In 2016 Anas had an award named after him by the Press Foundation in Ghana. The founder of the press foundation Mr Listowel Yesu Bukarson said: "This award was named after the world-renowned investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas to aid journalists to climb to the highest apogee in their chosen profession". 'Chameleon’ by Ryan Mullins, a documentary about Anas's life and work, was premiered at the 2014 IDFA festival in Amsterdam.

In the period from October to December 2016, Anas made his first foray into public life, outside of the world of investigative journalism, as a powerful advocate for peace in his "Anas4Peace" multimedia campaign, using Ghanaian celebrities to advocate for peace during the Ghana election period.

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