30 investigative journalists from ECOWAS sharpen skills

At least 30 investigative journalists from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) are undergoing a three-day training in Accra on investigative reporting of economic and financial crimes.

Organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering (GIABA), the training draws participants from Ghana, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, The Gambia, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The workshop is to build the capacity of participants to improve their research and investigation techniques.

It is also to build strong alliance with the media in a concerted manner for effective dissemination on Anti-money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism issues.

The Director-General of GIABA, Justice Kimelabalou ABA, in a speech read on his behalf yesterday by Dr Buno Nduka, the Director of Evaluation and Compliance of  GIABA, said the region was going through a difficult period with regards to health and security.

“ECOWAS member states like the rest of the world are suffering from the horrors of acts of transnational crimes, particularly migrant smuggling, drug trafficking, embezzlement, corruption and other predicates of money laundering which fuel violence and terrorism,” he said.

He stressed the need for all stakeholders to get involved to prevent and combat the scourges underlying money laundering and terrorist financing.

Mr ABA said GIABA, established in 2000, had undertaken training and sensitisation of activities of member states for non-state actors, especially for media, civil society organisations, youth and religious leaders to foster understanding of the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

He said the media, particularly investigative journalists, played crucial role in uncovering allegations of corruption, promoting good governance, attracting the sustained attention of law enforcement authorities and the public to fight against financial and economic crimes.

The Director-General stressed the need for closer and more productive collaboration with the media, as they constituted one of the main sources of information and intelligence both in political decision-makers and for international information community, both for policy makers and general public.

The GIABA National Coordinator, Mr Kweku Dua, said the role of investigative journalists was very crucial as the society tended to benefit from their work.

He said free and vibrant press was essential in a democratic society, adding that it was important that stories reported by journalists were accurate and substantiated with facts.

Mr Dua, who is also the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Financial Intelligence Centre, urged journalists to ensure that their stories were not just to discredit someone, but to present the facts as revealed by their investigations.

“As journalists, you must not have just sources but reliable sources to help you do your work”, he added.

Mr Dua said the training would enhance the knowledge of participants in effective journalism and also explore the available tools to conduct investigative journalism.

He commended GIABA for the initiative and urged participants to take advantage of the training to improve their skills and knowledge.

BY ANITA NYARKO-YIRENKYI

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