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Reporters Without Borders today launched an ad campaign in some 60 African newspapers to draw attention to the many murders of journalists in Africa that go unpunished. The launch comes on the seventh anniversary of Norbert Zongo’s murder in Burkina Faso and a few days before the first anniversary of Deyda Hydara’s murder in Gambia.
Produced in French and English, the advertisement is being distributed by Presse et Démocratie, a press freedom network created in 2000 in the French-speaking countries of Africa by media and journalism watchdogs, journalists’ associations and news media.
The ad says: “In some African countries, if you kill an elephant you may go to prison. If you kill a journalist, you might not.” It goes on to stress that those who killed Zongo in 1998 in Burkina Faso and Hydara last year in Gambia are still at large.
There are strong grounds for suspecting persons close to the government in both murders. But witnesses who could expose Zongo’s killers are refusing to talk, while the official police investigation into Hydara’s death has limited itself to considering absurd theories and has produced no results.
Zongo was the editor of an independent weekly, L’Indépendant. His badly-burned body was found inside the wreck of his car on 13 December 1998. Prior to his murder he had been investigating the circumstances of the death of David Ouédraogo, the personal chauffeur of François Compaoré, President Blaise Compaoré’s brother. Ouédraogo was tortured to death by members of Presidential Security Regiment (RSP).
Hydara was the co-editor of The Point and Banjul correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reporters Without Borders. He was shot dead at the wheel of his car on the night of 16 December 2004 after receiving death threats from the intelligence services, which had him under physical surveillance just a few minutes before he was shot.