Report on killing of journalists; The Ghana case

BY: Larweh Therson-Cofie
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The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has indicated in its 2018 report that killing of journalists on line of duty reached a crisis point in 2018.

In the report, the CPJ stated that 53 journalists were killed by December 14, last year. The number included 34 journalists who were targeted deliberately in retaliation for their reporting.

CPJ’s figures conflict with those of the Reporters Without Borders (RWB) who put the number of journalists killed in 2018 at 63.

Statistics provided by Statista.com put a higher estimate on the number of journalists who lost their lives on duty – either by deliberate, accidental or cross-fire killing.

According to Statista.com, 80 journalists died for official, as opposed to private, reasons.

By Satista.com estimates, 50 journalists died for their work in 2017; 62 in 2016; 81 in 2015; 73 in 2014; 79 in 2013; 87 in 2012; 67 in 2011; 58 in 2010; and 75 in 2009.

High point of journalists killing in 2018 was the spy-thriller murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Washington Post Saudi journalist living in the United Sates, who was killed in Istanbul, Turkey, in October, 2018.

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During that year, another journalist, Victoria Marinova, a Bulgarian television reporter, was raped and murdered in retaliation in her country.

Three Russian journalists, Alexander Rastorguyev, Kirill Radchenko and Orkhan Dzhemal, were murdered in June, 2018, in Central African Republic while on assignment.

In June, 2018 in Maryland, US, an irate reader of the Capital Gazette, a newspaper, burst into the newsroom with a gun and killed four journalists and a sales assistant. He had lost a defamation suit in court against the newspaper and decided to do gun justice.

CPJ, a non-profit private organisation based in the US, and works to provide safety and assistance to journalists in distress worldwide, cited two reasons why killing of journalists in retaliation has gone up in recent years.

CPJ mentioned insufficient international standards for journalists’ rights as one reason for the rise in journalists killing.

It also cited inadvertent killings and risky and dangerous assignments, such as wars and conflicts, as other causes.

Coverage of political events accounted for 62 per cent of news personnel killing in 2018, according to the CPJ. That makes covering of political events the most dangerous for journalists worldwide in 2018.

CPJ put the total number of news media personnel killed from 1992 to 2018 at 1,337.

It cited Afghanistan, Syria, Mexico and Iraq as the most dangerous countries for journalists.

For Ghana, in January, this year, one of the team members of Anas Aremeyaw Anas of the Tiger Eye Private Investigations, Ahmed Hussein-Suale, was shot dead at Madina-Accra.

The killing, that has received global condemnation, has given Ghana a bad name because the impression was given that Ahmed was a journalist.

A sober analysis of the development raises many questions such as the following; Was Ahmed Hussein-Suale, a journalist? Which mass media house was he working for? Is the private investigations firm, Tiger Eye PI, a mass media house?

When does a private investigator or a licensed private policeman or woman become a journalist? Do policemen and women become journalists when their undercover findings are published in the mass media?

Who is a journalist? A journalist is person whose profession is in journalism.

What is journalism?

One of the standard definitions of journalism is – the systematic and reliable gathering, processing, packaging and dissemination of public information, public education and public entertainment.

Who is an undercover or plainclothes investigator? An undercover or plainclothes investigator is a person who conducts investigations into matters that relate to criminal or civil wrong.

Plainclothes policemen and women are examples of undercover investigators.

A private undercover investigator is like a police officer. However, he or she is licensed to work not for the state but for private investigations firms or for him or herself.

The firm, Tiger Eye PI owned by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, is not a mass media organisation. It conducts private investigations and releases its findings to the mass media.

By the nature of Anas’ works, as a private investigator, he and his team do not qualify to be called investigative journalists.

Tiger Eye PI documentaries cannot stand the vigorous test of theoretical and practical journalism.

The other question is: Was Ahmed

Hussein-Suale killed for his works as a journalist?

Was it a journalist that was gunned down at Madina or a private investigator?

Ghana is a rule of law and democratic country where freedom and independence of the mass media are upheld and respected.

The level of press freedom in Ghana is very high by global standards.

No journalist was murdered in Ghana in retaliation for his work. Confidence K. Baah, who died in Kumasi in 2016, was believably poisoned.

Samuel Ennin, GJA Ashanti regional chairman, was shot dead in Kumasi in 2007 by armed robbers.

For the records and for the reputation for our country, Ghana, let us call a spade a spade; a spoon a spoon.

As a private investigations team, Anas and his colleagues had broken the sacred code of plainclothes or undercover investigators.

No Criminal Investigations Department (CID) of the Ghana Police Service or the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) plainclothes man and woman ever showed himself or herself in public claiming successes, collecting prizes, awards and honours for work done.

All that Anas and his colleagues had for cover were hoods that hid their faces.

Meanwhile, Anas and his team had incurred the wrath of 34 magistrates, and judges of the circuit and high courts, about 100 court clerks and 74 Ghana Football Association referees who had lost their jobs and reputations because Anas showed them on video allegedly collecting bribes!

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