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Gambia15 June 2005

Africa-wide radio appeal six months after murder of Deyda Hydara

MP3 - 455.5 kb
RSF spot Deyda Hydara english
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RSF spot Deyda Hydara english

Reporters Without Borders has launched an Africa-wide radio appeal in connection with the murder of prominent journalist Deyda Hydara, which it said Gambia’s government has "spent the last six months trying to hush up".

Hydara was shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Banjul on the evening of 16 December 2004 while at the wheel of his car.

Six months after his murder, on 16 June 2005, the organisation called on radios across Africa to broadcast a 30-second spot featuring the voice of his son, Baba Hydara.

In the radio appeal made by Reporters Without Borders in Paris, Baba Hyrdara says in French and English, "My father was killed six months ago. His killers are still at large. The government is sullying his memory. My family and I ask for justice to be done".

"Deyda Hydara was The Gambia’s best known journalist", the organisation said, adding that it would do its utmost to see that light was shed on the case. The appeal can be heard in .aiff and .mp3 format on http://www.rsf.org.

"We want to address ourselves directly to President Yahya Jammeh, who is the only person who can change things in The Gambia, "said Reporters Without Borders. "We want to tell him that we will continue to campaign alongside the Hydara family despite the unproductiveness of the investigation and the smear campaign against our correspondent in The Gambia. "

"We are asking for help from radio stations to show him that the murder of a journalist of such standing goes beyond the borders of The Gambia, contrary to what he would wish people to think. This international solidarity will provide support to the family, friends and colleagues of Deyda Hydara, who for the past six months have been exposed to the indignities and bad faith of the government."

The co-founder and editor of The Point, an independent newspaper that appears three times a week, and the correspondent of Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reporters Without Borders, Hydara was gunned down behind the wheel of his car as he was driving two employees home late at night on 16 December. He was an outspoken critic of two laws curbing press freedom that were passed by the national assembly on the eve of his murder.

Reporters Without Borders made two fact-finding visits to The Gambia, in December and April, partly to support his family and his newspaper, but also in attempt to advance an investigation that was going nowhere. The organisation was able to reconstruct how Hydara spent his last day and it identified a number of leads and hypotheses which any serious investigators ought to have pursued.

In particular, the organisation discovered that his murder, which was carried out by professionals, followed the pattern of a series of attacks against journalists and other figures who had upset the authorities. The circumstances, the method of operation, the recurring use of cars with no licence plates and preceding death threats were similar in every case. Hydara’s murder matches the pattern of many press freedom violations in recent years in Gambia and in all of these cases, the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has been identified as the perpetrator or leading suspect.

By piecing together information in the accounts provided by different sources, Reporters Without Borders also discovered that Hydara was under surveillance by the security services and was still being watched just minutes before he was murdered a few hundred metres from a police barracks.



In this country
24 April - Gambia
Regional group asked to intercede on behalf of missing journalist
12 March - Gambia
Adjournment of trials facing editor of the daily The Point
5 February - Gambia
The Point editor faces trial on “false information” charge for reporting diplomat’s arrest
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Journalists still live in fear four years after unpunished murder of Deyda Hydara
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Freelance journalist gets four years in prison or heavy fine for criticising president

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