#Article (Archive)


Dec 16, 2008, 5:27 AM

Today, December 16th 2008 marks four long years since the murder of the late Deyda Hydara, journalist and co-proprietor of The Point Newspaper.

Today, as everyday, our thoughts and our hearts are filled with memories of Deyda Hydara - his steadfastness in his belief in journalism as an agent of change, his doggedness to inform reliably, truthfully and impartially, his staunch and unwavering defence of the cardinal principles of this noble profession, his unrelenting desire to advocate for and champion the rights of the under privileged and most notably, his continued condemnation of all things unjust.

Therefore, every year, especially on December 16, 2004, we find ourselves saddened, our hearts filled with grief at the unnecessary loss of a rare species, an illustrious son of The Gambia, one who believed in freedom enough to die for it. But, more importantly, we find the silence and impunity following his brutal murder most foul deafening and intolerable.

Today, we reassure the family of Deyda Hydara that once again, as always, we stand heads and shoulders with you on this difficult journey. Deyda Hydara was a colleague, a mentor and a friend who shall never be forgotten. Deyda's life was a life of courage. It is the basis of any true act of courage that for one who received death threats, for one who visualized that for him, the end would mean being gunned down, he stood firm in his beliefs, firm in his convictions and firm in his determination to fight against social injustices. We shall continue to advocate for the solution of this crime until it is solved.

Once again, the Gambia Press Union, on the anniversary of the killing of Deyda Hydara, is making an appeal to the Government of The Gambia in particular and the public at large, that four long years have passed and no significant information has been made available so far as to the extent and depth of investigations into the murder of Deyda Hydara. We are yet to see any form of bold commitments from the State Security Apparatus' to resolving this crime.

The Gambia Press Union therefore,

. Unequivocally condemns the slow pace of investigations into the murder of the late Deyda Hydara;

. Condemns the unwillingness of the State Security Apparatus' to comment on and or divulge information into the extent of investigations into the murder of Deyda Hydara; Calls for a commitment from the State Authorities that it will do everything

. Possible within its powers and mandate to see to it that the perpetrators of this heinous crime are brought to book;

. Calls for a renewed commitment to the solving of this senseless murder for as time passes by so the trail goes colder and the crime more difficult to solve;

. Denounces the impunity enjoyed by attackers of media practitioners in The Gambia and laissez faire attitude of the Gambian Security authorities towards investigating and solving crimes against journalists and media institutions in The Gambia;

. Condemns the continued intolerable intimidation of the media, in particular the private press in The Gambia.

We also call on the state authorities through the office of the Inspector General of Police, the Secretary of State for the Interior and the National Security Council whose responsibilities amongst others are the maintenance of law and order and the prevention and detection of crime to:

. Issue a progress report into the investigations into the brutal murder of Deyda Hydara;

. Leave no stone unturned to trace the perpetrators of this heinous crime; To, in future, react swiftly to threats against journalists linked to their work and

. Develop specific strategies and mechanisms for the protection of journalists who have been the targets of serious threats.

Where these cannot be met, we regrettably call on the National Assembly, to acknowledge the persistent threats to the lives and freedoms of journalists and media practitioners, notably in exercising their rights to freedom of speech, expression and assembly, key elements to the work of media workers, and in demonstrating the commitments of the Legislature to serve in the public interest as outlined in Section 109 Sub Sections I and 2 of the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia, to set up an independent Committee of Inquiry to investigate the delays into the investigations of the murder of Deyda Hydara.

In light of renewed and improved press government relations and the fact that a free and vibrant press is the very foundation of a healthy democracy and a key indicator of good governance, we once again appeal to the Government of The Gambia to do everything within its power to ensure that justice and the truth prevails.

We also remind the Government of The Gambia that there can be no meaningful development without the popular participation of the general citizenry, who are most effectively mobilised through the channels of the media, which provides them the opportunity to express their views concerning the way in which they are governed.

Hence, the media's contribution to the development of The Gambia must be seen as paramount.

It is worthy to note that commitments to solving crimes particularly crimes against the media and media practitioners will go a long way to paving the way for an end to impunity and to the restoration of public confidence. Serious negations by the relevant authorities charged with the responsibility for the prevention and detection of crime are simply unacceptable.