The Gambia Press Union (GPU) and Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), supported by International Freedom of Expression Exchange (IFEX) on Saturday 16th December 2017, held a forum and a march pass in honour of victims of freedom of expression violation in The Gambia as part of events marking the commemoration of the 13th anniversary of the assassination of Deyda Hydara.
The day kicked off with a procession from KMC grounds to the site Deyda was shot dead, before marching down to Law Faculty Auditorium for the symposium.
The event was organised in partnership with the Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure, Deyda Hydara Family, The Point Newspaper, Article 19 and Victims Centre.
Mr Hydara is a founding member and former president of the GPU. He was also managing editor and co-proprietor of The Point Newspaper. The prominent journalist was killed on 16 December 2004 while from The Point’s office on Garba Jahumpa Road in Bakau. He was accompanied by two female staff of The Point; Ida Jagne and Nyangsara Jobe. Thirteen years on, his killers remain unknown.
Every year, GPU and partners commemorate December 16 to keep Deyda’s legacy alive and renew calls for justice. In 2015, the Union launched the Deyda Hydara Memorial Lecture Series. The maiden lecture was titled ‘The Role of the Media in the Independence Struggle of The Gambia’.
This year’s event will also highlight the cases of many media practitioners who have suffered the brutalities of the former government.
Speaking on behalf of Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo at the forum, former GPU President Ndey Tapha Sosseh said for the 13 years GPU, friends of the Gambian media, and the international community have condemned Deyda’s killing.
“On this 13th anniversary of Deyda’s death, I am relief that we will go beyond calling for justice,” she emphasized.
Gambia Press Union President Bai Emil Touray, said he has no doubt in his mind that the State is privy to information we do not have.
“Gov’t has started the process of investigating this matter. It is important to point out that the State is keen to resort to a judicial inquiry for them to not only get the facts, but also come up with recommendations,” he said.
In his view, the ongoing process will help prevent that ‘we will never witness again a gruesome act like what happened in2004.’
Amadou Scattred Janneh of the Gambia Center for Victims of Human Rights Violations called on the authorities to redouble their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He re-echoed the call made this week by Human Rights Watch, indicating that under the truth, reconciliation and reparation commission, amnesty should not be extended to ‘those responsible of crime like this.’
He called on former military personnel who have ‘information that is crucial to any of these cases to come forward.’
“The best way we can uphold his legacy is to continue to fight for press freedom,” Janneh insisted.
Last week, Gambian MPs endorsed major human rights bills, paving the way for justice to prevail in all crimes perpetrated by the former regime.