The Gambia Press Union (GPU), The Point Newspaper, Victims Centre, and the ministries of justice, information and communication infrastructure Saturday called for the start of a fast-track process of bringing Deyda Hydara’s killers to book.
The move comes as media practitioners and activists gathered to commemorate the 13th anniversary of the murder of an iconic figure of Gambian journalism, shot three times by ‘unknown gunmen’ on Dec.16, 2004.
“I am appealing to government for the culprits to be brought to justice,” Co-founder of The Point newspaper Pap Saine told JollofNews while he was about to join a group of journalists that took to the streets, calling for “justice now.”
A former editor and co-founder of the country’s first newspaper Deyda Hydara was murdered 13 years ago by assailants who are still at large. The Jammeh regime defied all logics in turning a deaf ear to calls made by human rights watchdogs for a proper investigation to be conducted into the matter, and went further to blatantly ignore ruling handed down by the ECOWAS community court in favour of the family.
As the new authorities have committed themselves to uphold the judgment delivered by the regional bloc court, Saine welcomed the move and expressed hope that government will take the necessary measures to extradite people linked with the murder, and who are believed to be in hiding in neighbouring countries;
In May this year, Gambian police issued an arrest warrant against former Lt Colonel Kawsu Camara known as “Bombardier,”and ex-Major Sanna Manjang, believed to have taken part in the killing of The Point’s primary editor, and former correspondent for AFP and Reporters Without Borders.
“It is reported that these two military officers are residing in neighbouring countries. Now it is up to government to work with Interpol and ECOWAS to ensure that they face justice,” Saine added.
Speaking on behalf of Information Minister Demba Ali Jawo at a symposium organised of the commemorative event, 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.
Press Union President Bai Emil Touray, who spoke to JollofNews, 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 in 2004.’
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.