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GJA Intensifies Collaboration With GIABA

The critical role of Journalists in exposing and combating money laundering cannot be overlooked.

It is becoming increasingly critical that journalists investigate suspicious financial activities, follow the money trail, and collaborate with experts to uncover potential illegal practices that threatens peace and security.

It is against this background that the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA) led by its President Albert Dwumfour has expressed readiness to intensify collaborations with the Inter-Governmental Action Group Against Money Laundering (GIABA) as GIABA takes advocacy and sensitization on financial crimes to a new phase.

The GJA has further welcomed the establishment of various Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Terrorist Financing Media Reporting Desks in some selected media organizations in Ghana.

According to the GJA President, it is essential for journalists to prioritize accuracy, verify sources, and adhere to ethical reporting standards while bringing issues such as financial crimes light.

Albert Dwumfour was addressing the opening ceremony of a 2-day Media Outreach And Advocacy Programme for selected journalists being organised by GIABA from Monday 27th November to Tuesday 28th November 2023 at the Alisa Hotel.

“Journalists play a crucial role in the fight against money laundering. Additionally, they can raise awareness about the impacts of money laundering on society.

By conducting in-depth research, interviewing relevant sources, and publishing accurate and timely information, journalists can help uncover illicit financial transactions, hold individuals and organizations accountable, and contribute to the prevention and detection of money laundering activities.

They have the responsibility to investigate and report on suspicious financial activities, expose corruption, and raise public awareness about the consequences of money laundering,” he reiterated.

GIABA on Monday opened a 2 – day Media Outreach Activities and Advocacy in Accra, Ghana, from November 27 – 28, 2023.

The objective of GIABA AML/CFT Media Outreach is to harness the massive potential of the media to increase awareness of AML/CFT issues among the populace of West Africa.

 

The 2 – day outreach activities involves a day each for official advocacy and sensitization visit to the management and editorial team of selected media organizations and an interactive session with reporters in Accra, Ghana, aimed at establishing Desk Officers for GIABA in the media houses and increased awareness of the fight against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF).

 

It is also to liaise with the media to educate the populace on the negative impact of Money laundering and Terrorist Financing and raise the interest of the public in supporting AML/CFT efforts spearheaded by GIABA.

 

A total of 15 selected journalists stand to benefit from the sensitization workshop bothering on the roles of the media in the fight against economic and financial crimes.

 

For his part, the Director-General of the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA) under ECOWAS, Mr. Edwin W. Harris Jnr. challenged Ghana Journalists to deepen efforts as reporters in identifying and exposing Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing activities.

 

According to him, the media remains a veritable channel of increasing awareness on ML/FT among the populace.

 

This was contained in a speech read on his behalf by Timothy Melaye the Head of Communications at GIABA.

 

The objective of GIABA AML/CFT Media Outreach is to harness the massive potential of the media to increase awareness of AML/CFT issues among the populace of West Africa.

 

The 2 – day outreach activities involves a day each for official advocacy and sensitization visit to the management and editorial team of selected media organizations and an interactive session with reporters in Accra, Ghana, aimed at establishing Desk Officers for GIABA in the media houses and increased awareness of the fight against Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing (ML/TF).

 

It is also to liaise with the media to educate the populace on the negative impact of Money laundering and Terrorist Financing and raise the interest of the public in supporting AML/CFT efforts spearheaded by GIABA.

 

A total of 15 selected journalists stand to benefit from the sensitization workshop bothering on the roles of the media in the fight against economic and financial crimes.

 

The delegation sent by the Director General of GIABA will pay an advocacy visit to 5 media organizations aimed at increased awareness of the fight against ML/TF.

 

The GIABA DG stated that GIABA has been working and building partnerships with the media groups and individual journalists to bring to public awareness the negative consequences of ML/TF.

 

“The media plays critical role to promote good governance, ensures optimal deployment of state resources, facilitates the protection of rights of citizens and ensures that corrupt officials and corrupt practices are exposed. The media serves as a change agent particularly as an anti-corruption crusade.

 

….Therefore, this is another effort to establish and sustain further partnerships with media practitioners across the region. Desk Officers are to be selected through this initiative to attend and publicize GIABA’s activities,” he emphasized.

 

He added: “Since 2009, GIABA has engaged the media through sensitization programs to facilitate their understanding of AML/CFT issues.

 

….A significant outcome of the program is forming a Regional Network of Journalists involved in reporting economic and financial crimes.

 

The network is a platform for information sharing and dissemination on the essence of implementing robust AML/CFT measures by GIABA member States.

 

More importantly, the media must not allow itself to be used by suspected money launderers and looters of public treasury to truncate the course of justice.

 

The workshop would therefore serve the purpose:-

 

• To bring together a broad section of the media from across the country under one group to identify and track down money laundering and financial terrorism activities within and outside the country.

 

• Equip the journalists with the right tool to cover, report, and investigate money laundering and other financial crimes in the best way that would help to stem the tide in the country.

 

• Equip journalists with the necessary knowledge to educate others in their respective organizations, region, cities, and towns.”

 

Touching on the core mandate of GIABA, he said GIABA’s core mandate amongst others, include ensuring the implementation of AML/CFT standards, in compliance with acceptable International Standards and practices, including the FATF 40 Recommendations.

 

He admitted that though the challenges have been complex with its accompanying onerous task, GIABA has risen to the challenge through various high-impact capacity-building programmes, technical assistance to various institutions of member States, sustained partnership with the international community, and far-reaching advocacies and sensitization programmes to a wide range of stakeholders.

 

“GIABA promotes the implementation of AML/CFT measures by member States, while taking into account regional peculiarities and environment.

 

It also acts as a forum where members can discuss regional issues and share their experience.

 

GIABA organises self and mutual evaluations to measure the effectiveness of the measures taken as well as their technical compliance with acceptable International Standards and conducts researches on trends and methods with far-reaching outcomes and recommendations to address the menace of ML/TF

 

GIABA coordinates and supports member States in the implementation of AML/CFT systems and legislations regarding the proceeds of crime through mutual legal assistance and further assists member States in establishing and sustaining Financial Intelligence Units (FIUs).”

 

The GIABA D-G was confident that this training workshop would become a springboard for a renewed commitment of all Journalists to identifying the key roles they must play in raising awareness as Journalists/Reporters are crucial in the information chain on money laundering and terrorist financing.

 

“As the people bearing responsibility for the content of the news media, editors decide whether to give a news story on money laundering and terrorist financing (ML/TF) prominence or to relegate it.”

 

Ghana’s Minister of Information, Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah, also used the same platform to admonish Ghana journalists to get more committed to programmes like these that help to shape and build their capacity in order to educate the public.

 

He bemoaned several instances where Ghana journalists hardly commit to projects undertaken by similar institutions that help to build their capacities.

 

“It is critically important for our colleagues in the media, who shine the light on the things that should concern us the most in our democracy, to be abreast with the key developments in the Anti Money Laundering and Terrorist financing ecosystem as we continue our journey in very turbulent times.

 

The Minister of Information was also optimistic that the GIABA Media Outreach And Advocacy Programme will provide colleagues in the media with the necessary skills required to aid their contribution in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing.

 

“Our region is increasingly becoming unstable. With the incidents on terrorism and insecurity on the rise.

 

Recent events even in Northern Ghana where efforts to apprehend persons suspected to be associated with terrorism were thwarted by local youth, give cause for concern- that more needs to be done to raise the awareness of the society to her obligations in this fight,” Hon. Kojo Oppong Nkrumah observed.

 

He further indicated that the role of the media in securing the needed level of public awareness and cooperation is therefore key.

 

“Weak regulatory frameworks, Political Instability, Highly Informal Economies, transactions across porous borders as well as growing sophistication in cyber activities are creating greater avenues for Money laundering and Terrorism financing.

 

….Money laundering and terrorism divert resources away from legitimate economic activities, hindering economic development and contributing to persistent poverty. They exacerbate income inequality as the proceeds often benefit a small group of individuals or entities, widening the wealth gap.

….They can deter foreign investors, by signaling weaknesses in a country’s regulatory and governance frameworks. Persistent issues with money laundering can harm a country’s international reputation, affecting its standing in global financial markets and diplomatic relations.

The media like other agencies has an important if not peculiar role to play in helping fight back. The media can educate the public about the dangers of money laundering and terrorism, its consequences, and how individuals can contribute to combating it.”

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