Ten years have passed since Reporters Without Borders and Agence France-Presse correspondent Deyda Hydara was shot dead in Banjul on his way home from The Point, the newspaper he helped to found – ten years in which his murderers have not been brought to justice or even identified.
A few days before his death, he had the courage to criticize laws restricting media freedom that were being adopted by the Gambian government, whose president, Yahya Jammeh, has said he plans to rule for “a billion years.”
Paris, 12 December 2014
President of the Republic of The Gambia
Private Mail Bag
Banjul, The Gambia
Subject: Reporters Without Borders calls for an end to impunity for the murderers of Deyda Hydara
We are nearing the tenth anniversary of the death of Deyda Hydra. This eminent Gambian journalist and correspondent for Reporters Without Borders and the Agence France Presse, was cravenly murdered on 16 December 2004. I write to urge you to put an end to 10 long years of impunity.
On 10 June 2014, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States declared the Republic of The Gambia guilty of having violated provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights as well as of the Revised Treaty of ECOWAS. The Gambia is a party to both agreements.
The Court further ruled that the Gambian government has failed to meet its obligations in not conducting a thorough investigation of the murder of Mr. Hydra. In addition, the Court found your government guilty of having contributed to his death in tolerating and causing a climate of impunity in the country.
Many member countries of the international community subsequently demanded enforcement of the Court judgement and the establishment of a United Nations mission of enquiry. The Gambian delegation responded favourably, declaring that The Gambia would welcome a UN investigation on Gambian territory. But, to date, UN investigators have not been able to enter the country.
“Anyone who wants to live in peace and freedom will be to live by toil, demonstration of high levels of discipline and tolerance for one another.” This is not a proverb, Mr. President, but a direct quote from you.
We ask you today to practice what you preach, and to respect the obligations that your country has accepted in accordance with the international agreements to which it is a signatory.
The investigation into the terrible crime of Deyda Hydara’s murder must be reopened so that impunity and arbitrariness cease to be the standard operating procedure of the Gambian government. Mr. Hydara’s family must see justice done.
Secretary-General Reporters Without Borders