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Burkina Faso / Gambia12 December 2005

“If you kill an elephant you may go to prison, but you might not if you kill a journalist”
Launch of ad campaign condemning impunity for the murderers of journalists

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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.

In this country
15 December - Burkina Faso
Police summon heads of ‘collective against impunity’ two days after march on 10th anniversary of journalist’s murder
13 December - Burkina Faso
Protesters rename Ouagadougou avenue after slain journalist on 10th anniversary of murder
12 December - Burkina Faso
Government still trying to cover up truth nine years after newspaper editor’s murder
2 October - Burkina Faso
Arson attack on radio host’s car marks escalation in intimidation campaign
23 January - Burkina Faso
“Total solidarity” with newspaper publisher and editor convicted of libelling president’s brother

in the annual report
Burkina Faso - Annual Report 2007
Burkina Faso - Annual report 2006
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
15 December - Gambia
Journalists still live in fear four years after unpunished murder of Deyda Hydara
18 August - Gambia
Freelance journalist gets four years in prison or heavy fine for criticising president

in the annual report
Gambia - Annual Report 2008
Gambia - Annual Report 2007
Gambia - Annual report 2006

Africa press releases
3 June - Somalia
Alarm at TV station director’s abduction near Mogadishu
27 May - Gabon
Government imposes news blackout on President Bongo’s health
26 May - Somalia
Radio reporter shot by militia dies of injuries, fourth journalist to be killed this year

africa archives

18 March 2009 - Democratic Republic of Congo
“Bukavu, murder city”: investigation report into murders of journalists in the capital of Sud-Kivu
21 May 2008 - Eritrea
Naizghi Kiflu, the dictatorship’s eminence grise
6 March 2008 - Kenya
"How far to go ?" Kenya’s media caught in the turmoil of a failed election

Sign the petitions
Sign the petition for the release of ten Eritrean journalists