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The Gambia
Deyda Hydara
Killed on 16 December 2004

Deyda Hydara was shot dead by strangers as he drove two of his newspaper staff home after work on 16 December 2004. He was one of Gambia’s most respected journalists and had been the Reporters Without Borders correspondent in Gambia since 1994.

Hydara devoted his life to the media and to freedom of information. Born on 9 June 1946 in Banjul, he was educated partly in neighbouring Senegal, where his parents had moved. He quickly learned French and Spanish and studied journalism at Dakar University.

He returned to Gambia in 1970 and joined Africa’s main privately-owned radio station, Radio Syd. In 1974, he became a local translator for the French news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) and then its stringer in Banjul. He left the radio station to help set up the Senegalese government-funded SeneGambia Sun in 1983, when the two countries tried to create a federation. The paper folded after a few years along with the federation.

In 1991, he and his friends Pap Saine, the local stringer for Reuters news agency, and Baboucar Gueye, who he has met at Radio Syd, founded an independent thrice-weekly paper, The Point, a novelty in Banjul’s media scene, which comprised a few duplicated news-sheets. A once-a-week edition in French also made it a focus of the country’s small French-speaking community.

The paper was an instant success. People who could not read asked their more educated children to read it to them out loud, said Saine. Hydara became a prominent media figure in Gambia and, as head of the journalists’ union, he joined the worldwide network of Reporters Without Borders correspondents in 1994.

He first clashed with the government when he and six other Gambian journalists openly criticised the seizure of power that year by the then army sergeant Yahya Jammeh. He was summoned by police under a law not used since British colonial days.

He fought tirelessly for press freedom and democracy under the military regime and called for equal opposition access to the media during the 1996 presidential election campaign. He was regarded as the doyen of the Gambian media and regularly made fun of President Jammeh in his column "Good morning, Mr. President."

All his colleagues, including his rivals, considered him the wisest and most thoughtful of journalists.

Campaign :
-  12 January 2005 : Reporters Without Borders’ Washington, DC (USA) office presents the "Who killed Deyda Hydara?" report to the McClendon Study Group.
-  6 January 2005 : "Who killed Deyda Hydara?" report published.
-  21-27 December 2004 : Fact-finding mission to Gambia by Reporters Without Borders.
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Read the fact-finding mission report "Who killed Deyda Hydara?"

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