GHANA'S CURRENT Journalist of the Year, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, has locked horns with the Deputy Minister for Women and Children Affairs, Daniel Dugan, over the aftermath of a police raid recently carried out at a child prostitution base in Accra.
The deputy Minister had alleged that Anas, after working under cover as a pimp to get a video recording of children involved in prostitution, had illegally given a copy of the said video to the US State Department and some local media houses who were using it unprofessionally. He alleged also that Anas was working on the story with an American lady by name Tatiana Kotlyarenko, who is operating an illegal organization in Ghana.
According to the Minister, Anas was making too much noise over a story other journalists had investigated in times past. Choice FM news also reported the Minister calling for the prosecution of Anas.
Anas, who is also the Investigative Journalist of the Year, has not taken the allegations lightly as he has rubbished the Minister's claims and counter-accused him of “shopping for excuses to divert attention from the irresponsible way they released the children who were to be rehabilitated at the Social Welfare Centre.”
In an interview with DAILY GUIDE, Anas said he would drag the deputy Minister to the Media Commission, after which he would consult his lawyers on how to handle the issue. The journalist complained that what the Minister was doing was tarnishing his reputation so he would employ every legitimate means to defend it.
Anas further stated that he does not in any way regret giving the tape to his colleague journalists.
“Look, I am not stupid. I anticipated this would happen and I gave the evidence out to the Ghana Journalists Association and some media houses that had already done some story on the same issue so we can all fight the menace as a team. I am not ready to take journalism lectures from Mr. Dugan if that is his concept of journalism. What is wrong with sharing evidence with colleague journalists?
“I have not breached any law and I dare him to bring the evidence that the media is unlawfully using the video. Until they do the right thing, I would continue the battle and he is free to call for my prosecution; If that is what would make them rehabilitate the girls they have freed. Out of 160 confessed prostitutes, they can account for only 14 and he thinks that is an achievement. What a shame!
“I feel sad and I am tempted to wonder if it is worth dying for your country. Mr. Dugan should focus on his political appointment and allow me to do my job as a journalist. I am not saying the story is my exclusive because a lot of other journalists had done some good work on it. The difference is that this is the first time a journalist has been able to get some evidence that indeed minors are being exploited sexually.
“Instead of going to look for the girls they released and bring them back for rehabilitation or thinking of something more sensible to tell Ghanaians, he goes about acting as if the rehabilitation of the girls is not on his priority list.
“He has been irresponsible and must apologize for the release of the girls. Fighting child sex exploitation goes beyond writing statements and looking for donor support. It involves a concerted effort and genuine commitment,” Anas indicated.
An obviously angry Anas said apart from the Police, who successfully carried out the raid and handed over the girls, all the other stakeholders had failed to fulfill their part of the agreement.
DAILY GUIDE has picked signals that Anas would be leaving the country this week and he would as well be looking for support elsewhere to rehabilitate the released girls who have reportedly gone back to their prostitution base.By Halifax Ansah-Addo