Journalists have been called upon to collaborate with other organizations involved in the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing to collectively ensure that appropriate measures are taken against the twin crimes in a more harmonized and concerted manner.
This is part of recommendations contained in a communiqué issued at the end of a 2-day interactive session for media executives and journalists in West Africa organised by the Inter-Governmental Action Group against Money Laundering in West Africa (GIABA), held from April 27 – 28 in Dakar, Senegal.
According to the communiqué, the 30 journalists and media executives from across the 15 member states of ECOWAS who attended the seminar, recommended that media practitioners should collaborate with organizations like Financial Action Task Force (FATF) - the global standard-setter for measures to combat money laundering, terrorist and proliferation financing; GIABA – an arm of ECOWAS established to fight money laundering and terrorist financing in West Africa, and similar organizations at national level.
The recommended collaboration will help to devise a common direction and means to articulate a more concerted regional approach to the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism to put a stop to the amount of millions of dollars being laundered in the West African sub-region annually.
It was also recommended that journalists should frequently visit the GIABA website (www.giaba.org) and of FATF (http://www.fatf-gafi.org) to keep themselves abreast with ML/FT issues.
“Journalists should undertake investigative work on Anti-Money Laundering and Counter Financing Terrorism (AML/CFT) issues and ask all critical questions from authorities on suspicion of money laundering and financing of terrorism activities,” the two-page communiqué stated. “Capacity building activities such as this training workshop should be held frequently at national levels to broaden journalists’ understanding on AML/CFT regimes.”
The communiqué has it that the media practitioners recommended that press organizations should have a permanent desk on financial crimes. They also recommended that a model of collaboration between GIABA and media organizations be developed on reporting of AML/CFT efforts.
It was also recommended that journalists should familiarize themselves with all the 21 predicate offences for money laundering and terrorist financing, as well as uphold the ethics and principles of journalism in all ramifications without fear or favour towards achieving professionalism in order to safeguard the interest and work of journalists.
In the communiqué, the participants expressed firm conviction that “if the issues raised in this communiqué are given serious attention by all governments in the sub-region; the prospects of eliminating these evils from our societies will be enhanced”.
They also expressed “sincere appreciation” to the management and staff of GIABA for organizing the two-day interactive session a programme dedicated to strengthening capacity to fight the menace of money laundering and other financial crimes.
The Interactive Session was purposely held to build the capacity of media practitioners and acquaint them which regional initiatives on AML/CFT framework, especially the mandate of GIABA in its sustained efforts at combating ML/TF in the West African region.
It also seeks to raise awareness on the ills of money laundering and terrorist financing and the need to report on financial crimes; as well as to provide documentation and research materials to assist journalists in their reporting.
The training session, which provided an opportunity for the fruitful exchange of ideas, has set the stage for future fruitful collaboration between and among media practitioners.