Media foundation faults court ruling on Ghanaian journalist’s defamation suit

THE Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA) has faulted the ruling of a Ghanaian court in a defamation suit filed by investigative journalist Anas Aremayaw Anas against a member of parliament Kennedy Agyapong of Assin Central.

The court had, on March 15, dismissed a defamation lawsuit filed by Anas against Agyapong, while also describing the journalist as a ‘blackmailer’ for seeking redress over injurious statements made against him by the lawmaker.

In a statement, the MFWA, which promotes the rights of journalists and citizens’ freedom of expression, said Anas was only doing his job, which pitched him against Agyapong.

According to the statement, a Ghanaian High Court judge dismissed the defamation suit filed by Anas, and also describes him as a “corrupt blackmailer”.

“We are informed that lawyers for Mr. Kennedy Agyapong petitioned the Chief Justice and obtained approval for Justice Eric Baah, then an interim judge, to be recalled to handle the case “to finality”. At that time, a substantive judge had been appointed to take over the case. This, we are informed, was without the knowledge of the plaintiff.

“Without wishing to go into the merits of the judgment, we wish to express serious concern about scathing remarks by the judge on the person and character of the plaintiff. For example, the judge described Anas as a “blackmailer, corrupt, extortionist and evil.” We find it rather worrying that a judge will formulate his opinion of a journalist’s work in such abusive and slanderous terms,” the group stated.

The MFWA said it had contacted its lawyers, who said the case was a civil case and it was wrong for a judge to come to criminal conclusions.

The Foundation added that it finds it curious that even though the ruling did not indicate that Agyapong produced any evidence to back his murder accusations during the hearing, the judge dismissed the case and proceeded to award costs against the journalist.

“We wish to point out the interesting paradox that Kennedy Agyapong, who incited violence against Anas’ team, including Ahmed Suale, who was later killed, is rather accusing the journalist of murder.

“Against this background, and the decision in respect of the choice of Justice Eric Baah to handle the case “to finality” as well as the judge’s unfortunate pronouncements about the plaintiff, the MFWA feels nothing but utter disappointment.”

The MFWA described the case’s eventual outcome as disturbing.

It added that Anas is entitled to appeal or any other judicial process and called on the Chief Justice and the judiciary not to act in ways that undermine journalism practice in the country.

The MFWA said it would not hesitate to call out any journalist who deviated from ethical standards and condemned what it termed sweeping and seemingly emotional outbursts by Justice Eric Baah.

The Foundation equally warned that such actions could dampen the spirit of journalists sacrificing to uphold Ghana’s democracy and encourage detractors to attack journalists.

Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a renowned investigative journalist in Ghana, was dealt a severe setback on Wednesday, March 15, when the Accra High Court dismissed the defamation lawsuit he filed against Kennedy Agyapong, an outspoken member of parliament for the Assin Central Constituency.

In 2018, Anas sued the politician for defamation and sought GH$ 25 million in compensation.

Anas had alleged that Agyapong defamed him during a live broadcast on a local television programme and filed a suit against the legislator.



    The incident involved the documentary. “Who watches the watchman”, which was aired by Agyapong.

    “Who watches the watchman” was in reaction to Anas’s Number 12 documentary, which accused football officials of corruption.

    However, the court found the lawsuit to be without merit in its decision on Wednesday, March 15.

    Also, Justice Eric Baah agreed with Agyapong’s claims that Anas is a blackmailer and an extortionist.

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