Naming, shaming and jailing: Anas Aremeyaw Anas speaks at Ashesi, on human rights, investigative journalism and ethics

13th November 2013 News

Source: Ashesi University

“It has been a long time since I had a group of students grilling me,” said Anas Aremeyaw Anas. “It is good to be here again, and I have come prepared for some hard-hitting questions.”

With that warm opening, Anas spent the next hour with the Child Rights class at Ashesi explaining the importance of the human rights debate around the world, and how journalism was a necessary tool in the fight to end corruption and change the world.

“I have been undercover in prisons and psychiatric hospitals among others, disguised as anything from a student to a pastor,” said Anas. “In my work I have tried to tackle issues that influence change. There’s no point in journalism that doesn’t affect society. Every piece of journalism must lead to some kind of change. So I have a three step process: naming, shaming and jailing.”

Using grim footage he had recorded, Anas shared details of some of the harshest cases of human rights abuse he had witnessed during his undercover work, explaining the misguided systems that helped these abuses go unpunished.

“We need to work to prove that some beliefs are nothing more than myths,” Anas said. “We need to shatter those myths, and move forward towards a more progressive society than we live in now.”

The Child Rights class, jointly held via video conferencing technology with the Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, explores the theory and practice of children’s rights in North America and other world regions, most especially Africa, and includes an examination of relevant international law, especially the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Students got to engage Anas on issues around his work philosophy, rights of expression, thought and religion, how he managed entrapment accusations and unintended consequences of his reports, and how he made sure that his work actually influenced authorities to change systems.

“Sometimes, there are low points. You may break a story that leads to very little immediate change, and you could feel like giving up,” Anas said. “But what you have to do is ensure that you don’t just report a story and go to bed. You have to do frequent follow-ups, and engage with civil society. Prosecution can be very slow, so you need to have both solid evidence and a lot of patience, and you can get there.”

Referred to by some as the “James Bond of Ghanaian Journalism”, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has detailed cases of corruption and human rights abuses around the world – without ever revealing his identity. In disguise, he has found his way into different places where has gathered evidence of wrongdoing, and presented it as evidence for prosecution.