President Barack Obama praised Aremeyaw Anas, a Ghanaian journalist with a paper called the New Crusading Guide, who worked undercover for eight months, risking his life, to expose a child trafficking ring. The evidence he amassed led to the prosecution of traffickers accused of sending Ghanaian girls to Europe for prostitution.
On his first presidential trip to sub-Saharan Africa, President Obama boosted the Ghanaian investigative reporter profile. He went undercover to break stories about human trafficking, Obama cited the "courageous journalist" as an example of what democracies that respect a free press can produce.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas was named among this year’s CNN/Multichoice African Journalists of the Year Awards finalists for 2009. Anas was the only Ghanaian among 25 finalists from 12 countries.
Ghanaian Went Undercover to Expose Sex Trafficking from EbonyJet.com in association with the Africa Channel, with writer Toby Thompkins and the Africa Channel’s Bob Reid reporting from Ghana.
Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a reporter with an independent Ghanaian newspaper, had been one of 17 "Heroes Acting to End Modern-Day Slavery" named in the State Department's 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report.
The U.S. government monitors human trafficking in 175 countries, including the United States, maintaining that it is a U.S. priority to end the "modern-day slavery" in which foreign workers are "held not just by brute force, but through exorbitant recruiting fees that can result in debt bondage," as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said.
Anas was responsible for breaking two major trafficking rings in Accra, Ghana, within a year, according to a report last year on america.gov, produced by the State Department’s Bureau of International Information Programs.
One of his pieces was headlined "INSIDE THE CHINESE SEX MAFIA . . . How Trafficked Chinese Girls Are Sexually Exploited And Beaten In Ghana, Nigeria And Togo. They Are Sold for 6,000 dollars Each."
"He worked undercover for eight months, exposing the ring's methods of transportation and the identities of immigration officials who were accepting bribes in return for overlooking fake visas and passports," the america.gov story said.
"Anas made recordings of his interactions, which allowed him to collect evidence that could be used by the police to prosecute the traffickers who were sending girls to Europe for prostitution. As a result of his investigation, and his collaboration with law enforcement agencies, nongovernmental organizations and other journalists, 17 Nigerian trafficking victims were rescued.
"Following this success, Anas posed as a janitor in a brothel where he collected evidence of a second ring trafficking children for prostitution. His efforts guided police in planning and executing a raid to rescue minors prostituted in the brothel. His exemplary courage and innovation were instrumental in disrupting two rings that profited from human trafficking."
In his speech to the Ghanaian Parliament, Obama said:
"Time and again, Ghanaians have chosen constitutional rule over autocracy, and shown a democratic spirit that allows the energy of your people to break through.
We see that in leaders who accept defeat graciously, and victors who resist calls to wield power against the opposition. We see that spirit in courageous journalists like Anas Aremeyaw Anas, who risked his life to report the truth.
We see it in police like Patience Quaye, who helped prosecute the first human trafficker in Ghana. We see it in the young people who are speaking up against patronage and participating in the political process."
He said at another point, "No person wants to live in a society where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery."
"This is too sweet to hear from the world’s most powerful man," Anas told Africa News on Sunday. "I never knew my investigative pieces are receiving his attention.
What an encouragement! He makes me proud but humbled too at the same time to continue serving mankind," Anas said.
Africa News said Anas, who is nicknamed "FBI," added: 'I have received about 14 international awards and still counting but listening to Obama mentioning my name in public to millions of people across the world is more than an award. I am so touched. I hope it would also serve as an encouragement to my other colleague journalists to continue with the good job they are doing.”
Anas was named the Ghanaian Journalists Association's 2006 Journalist of the Year. He investigated the Euro Foods Company, disguised as a cleaner whose duty was to help mix maggot-infested flour for baking biscuits for sale to the public.
His story on sex trafficking was a finalist for an award from Investigative Reporters and Editors in the United States.
This piece is dedicated to Anas Aremeyaw Anas and my former colleagues at the defunct Crusading Guide now New Crusading Guide especially the Editor Samuel Frimpong whose shouts have made me who I am today.