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General News of Saturday, 6 March 2021


Three Ghanaian journalists win big at maiden edition of Article 19 Press Prize Awards

Three Ghanaian journalists are in line for major honours after emerging tops in the maiden edition of the Article 19 Press Prize Awards.

The revelation was made by the award organisers, African Heights Foundation in partnership with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The journalists are to be rewarded for their exceptional and compelling storytelling, particularly about their country’s criminal justice system intending to force some level of reforms.

The three journalists are; Joojo Cobbinah of the Multimedia Group, Daily Graphic’s Emmanuel Hawkson and Edward Adeti of EIB Network.

Joojo Cobbinah’s “As if we weren’t humans” was adjudged as the overall winner.
In “As if we weren’t humans’, Joojo revived cold cases and sought to give the victims some form of closure.

In one of the cold cases, he highlighted the plight of a young man in his 30’s who was shot in the head by the police but survived miraculously. The young man known as Elias Ojoojo Adjetey Anum is currently paralysed. The family has engaged the police on several occasions but the police still maintain investigations are ongoing.

In another of the cold cases, Joojo Cobbinah again sheds light on a joint police/military team that allegedly raped 4 girls in Nalerigu in the northern part of Ghana at gunpoint. The rape victim narrated that a gun was put in her mouth with threats of pulling the trigger if she screamed.

The police resolved to get to the bottom of the issue by going to the extent of collecting a semen sample for DNA analysis. This happened 9 years ago and with the semen sample and case file itself allegedly untraceable, the victims are crying for justice. These cold cases demonstrate a level of police and military brutality that should not exist in a constitutional democracy and underscore the need for reform such as an independent police complaints unit and better resourcing of the Commission for Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ).

Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson of the Daily Graphic came in second with his story “Caged for Seven Years,” a story about poor investigations and lack of lawyers sending innocent persons to jail.

Charles Twumasi, one of the many victims of poor investigations ended up in prison due to the flaws in Ghana’s criminal justice system. If not for the interest one lawyer at the Legal Aid Scheme showed in his case, Twumasi would still be languishing in prison.

Edward Adeti of EIB Network finished third with his story “Corruption at the Attorney General’s office in Upper East Region”.

Meanwhile, there was a special prize for the best female entry. Beatrice Spio-Garbrah of Media General (TV3) won with her story on the lack of juvenile correctional home in the Ashanti region.

The winner of the 1st prize gets GH¢10,000, 2nd prize, GH¢6,000 and 3rd prize, GH¢3,000 along with a plaque and a certificate of honour.

Article 19 Press Prize is an award scheme put together by the African Heights Foundation in partnership with Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The Article 19 Press prize is an annual award to encourage journalists to report on the ills of the country’s criminal justice system to cause reforms.

The Article 19 Press Prize Awards also aims at rewarding young and mid-career journalists with exceptional skills in reporting on criminal justice issues from a constitutional and human rights perspective.

It also seeks to encourage law and judicial reforms through the evaluation of the impact of the justice system on the lives of ordinary citizens and the larger society especially the poor and marginalised.

Speaking on the benefits of the awards as well as the medium to long term goal of the awards, Dennis Armah who is the President of the African Heights Foundation said: “ We want to use the award scheme to start a new movement in the coverage of the justice system to draw more attention to the inadequacies in the system an direct the necessary political will for reform.

“In the long term, we want to use this to encourage more public interest in the justice system where most vulnerable people find themselves. This will ensure the essence of Freedom and Justice become meaningful to everybody. This is why we chose the independence day to announce the awards and its winners for the maiden edition.”

African Heights Foundation an NGO dedicated to using the tools of education, advocacy, and civic participation to raise leaders and active citizens excelling in various sectors of society in Africa.

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