State must protect investigative journalists from attacks — Panelists

BY: Musah Yahaya Jafaru
Anas Aremeyaw Anas (right), sharing his experience during the panel discussion. With him are Ms Adriana Hurtado (middle) and Mr Jeremy Dear, Moderator.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas (right), sharing his experience during the panel discussion. With him are Ms Adriana Hurtado (middle) and Mr Jeremy Dear, Moderator.

Panellists at a forum on investigative journalism in Accra have called for state protection for investigative journalists to prevent them from physical attacks by corrupt officials and criminal syndicates.

They again urged media houses to put measures in place to ensure the security of investigative reporters.

The panellists, including ace investigative journalist, Mr Anas Aremeyaw Anas; a seasoned Kenyan investigative reporter, Mr Erick Oduor, and the President of the Colombian Federation of Journalists, Ms Adriana Hurtado, made the call at the World Press Freedom Day conference in Accra yesterday.

They spoke on the topic: "Investigative Journalism: Ethics and Risk Mitigation."

Risky job


Mr Anas said because of the nature of his investigative work, his life and the lives of his family and friends were at risk.

As a result, he said he was constantly careful about his movements.

He stated that once he wrote about human beings, some of the people were bound to target his life.

"My days are restricted. My movement is restricted to certain places. You have to be very careful, but the work gives you satisfaction.

I'm prepared for the risk and media houses should take steps to mitigate the effects," he said.

Collaboration

Mr Anas defended his collaboration with state agencies in his investigative work.

He said once his work was to bring about change in his society, he needed to collaborate with state agencies who could effect arrest and prosecute alleged corrupt officials.

He stressed the need for investigative journalists to gather evidence that could be admissible in court to ensure conviction.

Otherwise, he said, the journalist would only expose the wrong but the people would end up walking free.

Mr Anas gave a hint that his latest expose', which was on politicians, would be aired soon.

He urged the public to brace up for the expose' as both prominent and young politicians would be exposed.

Back-up data

Mr Oduor said there were occasions when people who were being investigated stole or forcibly took away the computers and other gadgets containing the investigative material.

He, therefore, urged investigative journalists to have backup data to cater for any eventuality.

Ms Hurtado painted a harrowing picture of the situation of investigative reporters in Colombia.

She said the news agenda often obeyed the interest of the owners of the media and indicated that "where journalists don't follow, there are dismissals."

She stated further that there were cases of government favouring some media houses when it came to information sharing and indicated that it was difficult for journalists to access certain zones.