Deyda Hydara

Beats Covered:
Local or Foreign:

Hydara, managing editor and co-owner of the independent newspaper The Point, as well as a correspondent for Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reporters without Borders (RSF), was shot in the head and chest by unidentified assailants while he drove home from his office in the capital, Banjul, late that night. Two other staff members of The Point, Ida Jagne-Joof and Nyang Jobe, were in the car with Hydara and were wounded in the attack.

The shooting occurred two days after the Gambian National Assembly passed two contentious pieces of media legislation that Hydara, along with other local independent journalists, had strongly opposed. One of the new laws imposes lengthy jail terms for reporters convicted of defamation or sedition.

Hydara also wrote two columns for The Point that frequently criticized the government, according to local journalists.

In the years before the killing, Gambian journalists and media outlets have been targeted in successive arson attacks, for which no one has been prosecuted. The most recent attack occurred in August, when the home of BBC correspondent Ebrima Sillah was burned down following a threatening letter sent to the BBC accusing Sillah's reporting of being biased against President Jammeh.

In the prior two years, unidentified assailants have twice set fire to property belonging to the private, Banjul-based Independent, which is known for its critical stance toward the government. These attacks resembled an August 2000 arson attack on the offices of the independent Banjul-based station Radio 1 FM.

On June 10, 2014, a panel of three justices in the Nigeria-based Economic Community of West African States Court of Justice ruled that Gambia's National Intelligence Agency, which was tasked with investigating Hydara's murder, did not carry out a proper investigation and cited the agency's failure to carry out ballistic tests on the bullets and weapons recovered from suspects. The court said the NIA was "not an impartial body to conduct the investigation" but added that there was no evidence linking the Gambian government to the murder.

The court awarded US$50,000 to Hydara's family as compensation for the government's failure to investigate the murder and US$10,000 for legal costs. The ruling was the first ECOWAS case relating to the murder of a Gambian journalist.

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