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Deyda Hydara: Seven years of impunity

Dec 16, 2011, 12:57 PM | Article By: D.A. Jawo

This is yet another anniversary of the assassination of prominent Gambian journalist, Deyda Hydara, the seventh year since he was brutally murdered by unknown assailants and yet there is no indication that the Gambian authorities have any intentions to investigate the case with a view to apprehending those responsible for this heinous crime.

It is unfortunate however that every time President Jammeh comments on the case, he makes some ambiguous remarks which tend to confuse rather than clarify his government’s standpoint on the issue.

A case in point was his last interview with the BBC in which he compared Deyda’s brutal murder to the deaths of other Gambians in road accidents, thus further dashing any hopes that the authorities have any intentions of investigating the case.

We can all recall the so-called ‘Confidential Report’ that was released in 2005 in which the authorities, instead of displaying any seriousness in investigating the case, chose to subject Deyda’s personal character to all sorts of disparaging comments, even to the extent of blaming his death on his ‘wayward’ behaviour.

While there is as yet no iota of evidence to accuse the government or anyone else of responsibility for Deyda’s murder, but the least anyone expected from the authorities was to show commitment in thoroughly investigating the case with a view to bringing the culprits to justice.

Therefore, their failure to do so is tantamount to shirking their responsibilities to a bona fide Gambian citizen.

From the very beginning, the Gambia Press Union and other civil society groups have called on the authorities to invite more competent investigating bodies from abroad to help our security forces to unravel the truth of the case, but they always turned down the call, saying the security forces have the competence to carry out the investigation and yet, so far, they have failed to carry out any serious investigation.

There is no doubt that if the government had agreed to such a proposal, then by now the truth would have been known as to who killed him and why. Therefore, the failure to investigate the case has definitely dented The Gambia’s image as a respecter of the rule of law and provider of justice for its citizens.

Therefore, in view of the obvious reluctance on the part of the Gambian authorities to investigate this heinous crime or invite other competent bodies for help, we are left with no other option but to call on regional bodies like ECOWAS and the African Union, or even the United Nations and the international community to assume their responsibilities and ensure that justice is done.

In fact the failure of the authorities to make the autopsy report available to the Hydara family or to even carry out a forensic analysis of the bullets recovered from Deyda’s body, which are some of the most basic things anyone would expect from any responsible authority, can easily be interpreted to mean an apparent attempt of a cover-up.