Gambia has 'no stake' in Hydara murder

By Madi Ceesay on June 10, 2009 5:45 PM ET

(Agence France-Presse)

Last week, President Yahya Jammeh, at left, discussed the unsolved 2004 murder case of editor Deyda Hydara in an interview on "One on One," a weekly program on The Gambia Radio and Television Service. The government "has for long been accused by the international community and so-called human rights organisations for the murder of Deyda Hydara, but we have no stake in this issue," media reports quoted Jammeh as saying. "And up to now one of these stupid Web sites carries 'Who Killed Deyda Hydara'? Let them go and ask Deyda Hydara who killed him," The Point newspaper quoted him as saying. 

The president's remarks on the shooting of the Gambia's best-known journalist, as far as I am concerned, are rather disappointing. Friends, family, and colleagues of the outspoken editor of The Point have been awaiting justice since we were filled with sorrow that tragic night of December 16, 2004. One could not imagine that President Jammeh would tell people concerned about Hydara's case to go and ask Deyda himself as to who killed him.

For me, this is the latest attempt by the president to disassociate the regime from the case. In 2006, in response to questions about the case, Jammeh declared to international media: "I don't believe in killing people. I believe in locking you up for the rest of your life." The president also stated, "The whole world can go to hell. If I want to ban any newspaper, I will, with good reason." This came just three months after the arrest of journalist "Chief" Ebrima Manneh, who has not been heard from since, and followed a raid on my now-banned former newspaper, The Independent.


In this interview, Jammeh implied that investigations into the killing of Hydara, right, were stalled and should be conducted in neighboring Senegal. "The eyewitnesses of the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara are currently in neighboring Senegal and that [sic] all attempts by the National Intelligence Agency to talk to them in order to complete their investigations have proven futile," Agence France-Presse quoted him as saying.

Yes, at least one of the eyewitnesses, former Point staffer Ida Jagne-Joof, is living in Senegal, but the killing took place here in the Gambia. The bullets that killed Hydara should be either with the police or the hospital authorities. All the evidence, including the results of a postmortem examination, is with the authorities. It is therefore difficult to understand how, to this day, authorities have yet to hand a postmortem report to the editor's family. Furthermore, authorities have never interviewed the other witness wounded in the fatal shooting, Nyang Sara Jobe. She remains a newsroom typist at The Point in Banjul.

What the government of the Gambia should do is mount a serious investigation into the killing of this man. A 2005 investigative report issued by the National Intelligence Agency did not address the question of who killed Hydara, but rather speculated on possible motives to the murder and accused the journalist of being a womanizer.

I would therefore encourage the government to invite international investigators to look into the case. Recently, the government invited the U.N. and ECOWAS (the Economic Community of West African States) to investigate the killings of Ghanaians killed on Gambian soil in 2005. That is an effort that is commendable. In the same vein, I think they should do the same for Hydara.

Madi Ceesay, a veteran journalist based in Banjul, the Gambia, is the editor and publisher of the Daily News newspaper. He was a 2006 recipient of CPJ's International Press Freedom Award.


I would first of commend Mr. Madi Ceesay for his curage to reporting what Yaya Jammeh have just said on late Deyda Hydara. Jammeh statement is unrealistic on one hand.And in the other it is calculated and shows that he had a hidden agenda in prosecuting the éditor-inchief of the pointnewspaper, Pap Sain. Jammeh on thewhole is taking Sain to court for carring the jacon- WHO KILLED DEYDA HYDARA? Mr. president as long as the quistion remains unanswered we will continue to the jacon -WHO KILLED may continue to call Human rights organisations as socall...
btas long as te abuses and violations continue to be your way of life the human rights activists and organisations will also continue to ask for a stop to it and your possible prosecution.
By Yaya Dampha

Oh Allahu, please continue to shower your eternal blessings on Deyda, where ever he is.
For Yaya Jammeh and his killers we will tirelessly continue to expose their missdeeds and hypocrises just like how Deyda was doing until we bring them on their knees.
Jammeh is indeed tyrant and a hater.

The Statements by President Jammeh show to what lengths He is willing to silence any form of Discord.

So He doesn't Kill People Just throws them in Jail? That statement in itself shows How seriously He takes Press Freedom Issues.

good to know that Yaya Danpha is save sound and kicking in Sweden good luck bro aluta contenuea. long live Gambian journalists
Wuli URR

Muhammed L. Juwara June 11, 2009 2:28:33 PM ET

I personally commend the Gambian press for their bravery,dedication to a difficult profession under a dictatorship.President jammeh swore to defend the constution he imposed on the Gambian people but even that has day MR PRESIDENT you will account for your actions in CUFFS.

It's become very evident that the man has a hand in the murder of Deyda Hydara. If he had nothing to do with it, he would not be at all bothered by a banner on the Point's website asking "Who killed Deyda Hydara". He is either complicit in the murder or he doesn't care about the man at all, and he's actually glad he's been killed.
Asking the people concerned, to go ask Deyda, who killed him, is the most cold hearted, malicious and insulting statement he has made to date, directed to the slains man's greiving family.
This issue, by the grace of Allah, will not go away, no matter how hard he tries to deflect the culpability. It will forever be an Albatross around his neck until he takes his last breath, and hopefully we will not have to wait too long for that.
"Semper Fidelis"

I first and foremost thank Mr.Madi Ceesay for his bravery position in championing press freedom in the Gambia as well as the independent style of reporting news, events executed by the independent Daily News in Banjul.For what he has experienced in the fight for press freedom and freedom of expression,Madi's Paper the Daily News continues serve as a beacon of hope for Gambian elites by independently reporting events.
He is a season journalist whom all Gambian journalists look up to.
Bravo Madi!!!

Saikou Ceesay,Senior reporter the Daily News June 16, 2009 8:33:46 AM ET

the comments of presint jammeh are very disappointing

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