way certain news outlets reported or portrayed rights violation crimes under
ex-Gambian dictator enabled him and other perpetrators to go unaccountable in
the society, according to a Jammeh victim and co-publisher of The Point, Baba
Under President Jammeh, so many opponents of the victims were paraded on TV or printed on front pages of pro-Jammeh newspapers and other outlets without committing any crimes; accused of damaging crimes or tortured into admitting crimes they never committed.
“Gambians got so accustomed to impunity to the extent that it seems normal to perpetrate grave crimes such as human rights violations. The perpetrators tend to ignore that accountability will be pursued one day,” said Baba Hydara, eldest son of veteran newspaper editor and publisher gunned down in 2004 in Banjul.
In a paper presented at an event organised by African Legal Aid on the theme “Using the Media as a Tool to Pursue Accountability for Grave Crimes”, Hydara said there was no doubt as to the way certain news outlets reported or portrayed these crimes helped perpetrators to go unaccountable in our society.
“Those media outlets and journalists who stood up for these victims and against perpetrators also end-up victimized in various ways, including arrests, murder, disappearance, burning of outlets/facilities, using draconian laws against them, denying them adverts, etc.,” he further explained, arguing that Jammeh’s days were really dark times for journalists and survival of news outlets.
“It causes victims to be marginalise in our society, or their cries ignored to the point of impunity…,” said Hydara, who also lived in exile with his siblings after their father was murdered in 2004. These were all possible because there was no media to echo the cries of victims or defend their rights when they were violated after they critical news outlets were silenced, over a hundred journalists exiled.
Media role in accountability
Hydara argued media has a crucial role to play in ensuing accountability for grave crimes, such as reporting these crimes help to expose and document them for posterity.
“Such documentation can also be used as evidence against perpetrators when it comes to prosecutions,” he pointed out, adding that such a relevance will soon come to light during the proceedings of the TRRC in The Gambia.