Dozens of judges in Ghana have been suspended after an undercover journalist recorded them apparently taking bribes and demanding payment in exchange for favorable rulings.
The country's Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, is investigating the charges of bribery against the 34 judges, and despite the protests of some of those implicated, has also granted whistleblowers' immunity to Anas Aremeyaw Anas, the journalist behind the video footage. In 500 hours of footage, Anas caught 22 lower court and 12 higher court judges allegedly engaging in bribery and extortion.
Anas' documentary, Ghana in the Eyes of God, was released publicly at a screening in Ghana's capital city, Accra, earlier this week. Here's a pretty good introduction to Anas:
"Naming, shaming and jailing. That's my kind of journalism," he says in the video.
Anas has taken down the cocoa smuggling business by disguising himself as a rock, went undercover as a policeman and, Nellie Bly style, got himself committed to a psychiatric hospital in the name of journalism. His approach was a little different this time, the Guardian writes:
Anas had been working on a documentary featuring secretly filmed footage of 34 judges taking bribes. For two years he pretended to be a relative or friend of an accused, offering to pay judges in exchange for passing shorter sentences. Twelve high court judges and 22 lower court justices were filmed accepting money – and in one case, a goat.
There have been Twitter homages to the distinctive face-confetti-with-bucket-hat he uses to hide his identity when he needs to appear in public, tagged #AnasIsComing:
With the help of his elaborate costumes and willingness to go deep undercover, Anas has actually been pretty influential in Ghana. His illegal cocoa story got three companies banned from the trade, and his psychiatric hospital story triggered the process that resulted in Ghana's Mental Health Act, passed three years ago.
And with this latest exposé, he may have been able to prove what's been widely speculated about in Ghana: that the judiciary has some serious corruption issues, although it's still not as corrupt as many other countries in the region. The country is ranked 61 out of 175 countries on Transparency International's global index for 2014.
“When you are dealing with bad guys in the society and you take a swipe at them and you miss, you embolden them,” he said in an interview with Makeshift. “I have no time for that. If I pick a story that I want to do, I do it well and ensure that you go behind bars.”
There is no international release date yet for Ghana in the Eyes of God, but for now the trailer is online: