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Deyda Hydara Assassination: The African Editors Forum Urges Gov’t to Bring Jammeh and Co. to Book

The African Editors Forum (TAEF) called on the Gambian Government to bring those responsible for the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara, including the former president Yahya Jammeh, to book.

Deyda Hydara, who was editor and co-founder of The Point newspaper and a correspondent for AFP and Journalists Without Borders (RSF) was gunned down in the late hours of 16 December 2004 by unidentified gunmen outside Banjul. The former president and his government repeatedly denied any involvement in the killing.

On Monday, Lt. Malick Jatta of the Gambia Armed Forces and a member of the ex-leader’s elite hit squad, confessed to taking part in the killing. Testifying before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, Jatta said the operation to kill Hydara was ordered by Jammeh. It marked the first public confession tying the ex-president to Deyda’s killing.

Lt. Malick Jatta

Lt. Jatta also told the TRRC that at the completion of the operation, Captain Tumbul Tamba, his commander gave him an envelope containing dollars as “sign of appreciation from the big man”, a reference to Jammeh.

Reacting to the revelations, TAEF, a body of editors and senior editorial executives from across Africa, said it was “horrified but not surprised at the revelation that security forces and the then president of The Gambia were responsible for the murder” of Hydara.

“For years, Hydara family and colleagues have been calling for justice for Hydara, whose only sin was publishing the truth about the corruption that was rife in the government. Hydara’s sin was to be a journalist fighting for media freedom and freedom of expression,” TAEF said in a statement.

Deyda Hydara

The forum called on the government to urge the law enforcement agencies to follow up on the revelations and bring those responsible for the murder of Hydara, including the former president, to book. It described Hydara as a true hero of African media.

In 2005, Hydara was posthumously awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award. In 2010, he won TAEF’s Hero of African Journalism Award jointly with disappeared journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh.

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