Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara was murdered in December 2004 in what Reporters Without Borders claimed was a well-organized operation that bears a resemblance to the murders of other journalists in that country.
Hydara, who edited Gambia’s Point newspaper and worked for Agence-France Presse and with Reporters Without Borders, was an outspoken opponent of new laws designed to curtail freedom of expression in Gambia. The laws allow journalists to be jailed for up to six months for writing ‘libelous’ articles. In order to publish in Gambia at all, newspapers have to prove to the satisfaction of the government that they have the finances to pay new fines the government has also instituted for ‘libelous’ articles.
Leonard Vincent, who heads up Reporters Without Borders’ African unit, told The BBC, that witnesses to Hydara’s killing were afraid to talk to police and that an independent commission was needed to look into his murder.
In addition, according to the African Independent newspaper, both the business offices and homes of prominent newspaper editor and journalists have been the targets of a series of arsons over the past few years. So far, no one has been arrested in connection with any of the arsons.
It is, of course, difficult for countries to overcome poverty and corruption when government’s and their allies can slap odious restrictions on newspapers and kill reporters with impunity.
‘Hitmen killed Gambia journalist’. The BBC, January 6, 2005.
AFP and Reporters Without Borders correspondent gunned down in Banjul. Press Release, Reporters Without Borders, December 17, 2004.
Veteraln Jouranlist Shot Dead in The Gambia. African Independent, December 17, 2004.