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The Deyda Hydara Case: Four years on and Still No Investigations

Dec 16, 2008, 5:21 AM | Article By: D.A. Jawo

It has been four years since the gruesome murder of our colleague Deyda Hydara by still unknown assassins, and yet hardly any visible efforts have been made by the police/NIA and the authorities to investigate the murder and bring those responsible for this dastardly act to justice.

It is extremely hard for anyone who intimately knew Deyda to ever imagine that anybody would have any cause to harm him, let alone shoot him dead. Deyda was a gentleman who had love and sympathy for everyone, regardless of ethnic, religious or social background. He was not only a journalist of the highest caliber, but he was also quite courageous, steadfast and committed to the ideals of journalism and to everything else he was engaged in. He was such a kind-hearted person who was every ready to assist anyone in need, and he had great love for this country.

Therefore, the failure of the Gambian authorities to show any commitment to thoroughly investigating Deyda's murder with all the seriousness it deserves, beats everyone's reasonable imagination.

While there is no evidence to connect the government or any of its agents to the killing, but their apparent lack of interest in the matter as well as some of the officially- sanctioned behaviour when it comes to the case, makes the whole thing appear quite bizarre.

Indeed, Deyda as a Gambian citizen deserved all the protection from the state like all other citizens and one would therefore wonder why the authorities seem to not only show such apparent lack of interest in his case but it is also hard to see why they always seem to show some apparent discomfort as far as the case is concerned.

There are certain instances when the authorities have shown their discomfort with anything pertaining to the case. In the first instance, the GPU were almost prevented from marching in the streets of Banjul on the seventh day of his killing.

Even when the march was allowed to go ahead, it was subjected to some conditionalities, which included the barring of other members of civil society joining in, and number of heavily armed soldiers on the streets far out-numbered the number of journalists on the march.

We also saw how on the first anniversary of his killing when the GPU decided to visit the site where he was shot, with their invited guests from the sub-region they were prevented from reaching the site by a large contingent of heavily armed paramilitary police."

At the same time, we have observed that whenever the authorities are invited to any occasion pertaining to the Deyda case, they would never respond, let alone attend. A good case in point had been the international forum organized on the first anniversary of his killing when the then Secretary of State for Information was invited and she even promised to turn up as guest speaker, but failed to do so at the very last minute. There have also been several other occasions, including the launching of the book, A Living Mirror. The life of Deyda Hydara, to which the present Secretary ofState of Information was again invited but to which she never came and no one from the government turned up to grace the occasion.

All the above episodes as well as the fact that not even the GRTS have been covering such news-worthy occasions makes anyone wonder why the authorities do not want anything to do with the case.

The very fact that the authorities refused to even contemplate the request by the GPU to invite independent investigators to investigate the case or to even allow Deyda's family access to the autopsy report and the available evidence like the bullets removed from his body seems to indicate their edginess about anything dealing with the Deyda's case.

Another interesting aspect of the authorities' reaction to the case had been their first and only "Confidential Report" issued by the Department of State for the Interior in April 2005 that they ever released on the case.

That report not only failed to come up with some possible leads as to who might have killed Deyda and why, but it was instead full of aspersions and innuendos about his reputation and way of life. Virtually sifting the blame for his murder on his "wayward" character, portraying him as a womanizer and an irresponsible person who made many enemies for himself, all of which were far from the truth.

Since that report, there seems to be a complete silence on their part as far as the case is concerned.

We can therefore only hope and pray that authorities will change their minds and give the investigation into Deyda's killing the seriousness it deserves, otherwise, it is hard to see how those callous criminals who killed him would ever be apprehended and brought to justice.