To seek the truth, Anas Aremeyaw Anas has repeatedly put his life on the line. Anas is an acclaimed Ghanaian investigative journalist, who has to conceal his identity using original masks and disguises because of the risks he faces.
During his 2009 speech in front of the Ghanaian parliament, even US President Barack Obama praised him for his bravery in reporting the truth.
Some could say that Anas is a man without a face, but that’s not quite true. In fact, he is a man of many faces – he was a rich husband when he was covering a scandal about baby selling clinics; a prisoner during his investigation on African jails; a patient affected by mental illness during his reportage in a psychiatric hospital. These are just a few examples that show his committment to the stories he follows.
His first article, dating back to 2009, helped him understand that investing more time to conduct in-depth research and investigations would result in stories the people wanted to know about and – most of all – stories that could have an impact into people’s lives.
As Anas told during a conference at the International Journalism Festival on 8 April, 2016, undercover journalism is a necessity for the African continent. In countries where hunger, poverty, corruption and human rights violations are widespread, it is crucial to find hard evidence to report abuses and have a positive impact on society.
Anas’ work could be summed up in three words: “name, shame and jail”. For Anas, there isn’t a point in doing journalism if it doesn’t have an impact. His work as a journalist does not finish right after the publication of the story, but it goes further: he held the perpetrators accountable, he brings them to justice and he even testifies as a witness in court.
The reporter admits that his work could be seen as controversial, but he defends his way of doing journalism and says he doesn’t need to justify it as far as he gets results: “How come when journalism is done in Africa they have issues with ethics, but when this same journalism is replicated in the West there is nothing wrong with it? For me, like I keep on saying, it is about the people,” Anas argued, emphasising that he works to help protect the rights of the people he writes about.
Anas has conducted investigations into a wide range of issues, including corruption, abuses in the health sector, the environment and human rights – and he has won many international and national awards.
In one of his latest investigation, Anas and his team have revealed widespread corruption within the judicial institutions in Ghana and they have secretely filmed many judges – including 12 High Court judges – who were accepting bribes. Kofi Annan, former UN Secretary-General, said: “Sometimes it takes a spark, just a spark, and I think Anas has provided that spark for the whole edifice to blow up.”