Deyda Hydara (June 9, 1946 – December 16, 2004) was a co-founder and primary editor of The Point, a major independent Gambian newspaper. He was also a correspondent for both AFP News Agency and Reporters Without Borders for more than 30 years. Hydara also worked as a Radio presenter in the Gambia called Radio Syd during his early years as a freelance journalist.
|Born||June 9, 1946|
|Died||December 16, 2004 (aged 58)|
|Cause of death||Gunshot Wound|
|Occupation||Editor of The Point|
|Known for||Journalism, 2004 murder|
|Awards||PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award (2005)|
Hero of African Journalism Award (2010)
Journalism with The PointEdit
On December 16, 1991, Hydara co-founded The Point along with Pap Saine and Babucarr Gaye; Saine and Hydara had been friends since childhood. Gaye resigned four months later, and Hydara and Saine ran the paper together for the next decade.
Hydara was an advocate of press freedom and a fierce critic of the government of then President Yahya Jammeh, who was openly hostile to Gambian journalists and the media. On December 14, 2004, the Gambia passed two new media laws. One, the Criminal Code (Amendment) Bill 2004, allowed prison terms for defamation and sedition; the other, the Newspaper (Amendment) Bill 2004, required newspaper owners to purchase expensive operating licenses, registering their homes as security. Hydara announced his intent to challenge these laws, but on December 16, was assassinated by an unknown gunman while driving home from work in Banjul. Two of his colleagues were also injured. Over the years, the Gambian government was the target of much criticism for its failure to properly field an investigation and also for intimidating those who made such criticisms. Hydara's family filed a lawsuit against the government for negligence, and an ECOWAS court ruled in favour of the family in 2014, awarding them $60,000 in damages and legal fees, although the government has not yet complied with the ruling. His murder remains unsolved, although in May 2017 (after Adama Barrow replaced Yahya Jammeh as President), arrest warrants were issued for two army officers as suspects.
Deyda Hydara was survived by his wife and his five children. He was posthumously awarded the PEN/Barbara Goldsmith Freedom to Write Award in 2005 In 2010, he won the Hero of African Journalism Award of The African Editors’ Forum in 2010, sharing the latter with disappeared journalist Ebrima Manneh.
In testimony of Lt Malick Jatta before the Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission, TRRC, at a public hearing in Banjul on July 22, 2019 Jatta said that Hydara was shot on the orders of Jammeh.
Investigation controversy and defamation trialEdit
In November 2008, the International Press Institute began a "Justice Denied" campaign pressing for investigations into violence against journalists in the Gambia, particularly the still-unsolved murder of Deyda Haydara. At a June 2009 press conference, Gambian President Yahya Jammeh disparaged questions about the Hydara investigation, 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." Although the killers have not yet been brought to justice, it is believed by some that the former government in the Republic of Gambia may have been responsible for this act. The Gambia Press Union then published a statement criticizing the lack of press freedom in Gambia, the stalled progress of the investigation, and the president's remarks, which the union called "inappropriate". The statement ran in The Point and a weekly newspaper, Foroyaa, on June 11.
The Gambian government responded by arresting six journalists: Pap Saine, News Editor Ebrima Sawaneh, and reporters Sarata Jabbi-Dibba and Pa Modou Faal of The Point; and editor Sam Saar and reporters Emil Touray of Foroyaa. The six were charged with sedition and criminal defamation of the president. Jabbi-Dibba (the only woman) was held in Mile 2 prison, while Saine, Sawaneh, Faal, Saar, and Touray were held in Old Jeshwang prison. On August 8, Jabbi-Dibba's seven-month-old baby was taken away.
Numerous human rights NGOs protested the arrests and called the charges against the journalists to be dropped. Amnesty International designated the six as prisoners of conscience and demanded their immediate release. The Committee to Protect Journalists also campaigned for Saine's release, as did the World Organization Against Torture, the International Federation for Human Rights, International PEN, the PEN American Center, and Front Line Defenders. Jammeh continued to denounce the journalists, however, making a state television appearance to say "So they think they can hide behind so-called press freedom and violate the law and get away with it? They got it wrong this time ... We are going to prosecute them to the letter."
On August 7, 2009, the six were convicted and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in Mile 2 Prison, as well as a fine of 250,000 dalasi (£5,780) apiece. However, Jammeh pardoned them in September, following a campaign of "domestic and international pressure". The pardons were issued to coincide with Ramadan.
In June 2014, a decade after his assassination, the ECOWAS Community Court of Justice found the Gambian government liable for failing to diligently investigate Deyda Hydara’s murder. The Nigerian law firm, Aluko & Oyebode, represented the family of Deyda Hydara and the Africa Regional Office of the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ-Africa) in the law suit against the Gambian government.
- Valentin Ladstaetter and Laura Pannasch (September 21, 2010). "Interview with IPI World Press Freedom Hero Pap Saine". International Press Institute. Archived from the original on December 30, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "About the Point Newspaper". The Point. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- "Pap Saine: World Press Freedom Hero". International Press Institute. 2010. Archived from the original on October 16, 2011. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- "12 years on: No justice for murdered Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara". Media Foundation for West Africa. December 16, 2016. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
- "Ending Impunity: Court Issues Arrest Warrant for Suspects of Deyda Hydara's Murder". Media Foundation for West Africa. May 19, 2017. Retrieved December 14, 2017.
- "PEN/Barbara Goldsmith". PEN American Center. Archived from the original on October 27, 2012. Retrieved January 28, 2007.
- "Saudi Writer, Gambian Journalist Win Freedom to Write Awards". International Freedom of Expression Exchange. April 6, 2005. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "Deyda Hydara, Chief Manneh get 'Hero of African Journalism Award'". Jollof News. October 15, 2010. Archived from the original on December 3, 2010. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- publisher (July 24, 2019). "AFEX calls for prosecution of Ex-President". Realnews Magazine. Retrieved July 29, 2019.
- "Deyda Hydara". International Press Institute. 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- Anger mounts after detention of journalists IOL
- "Day of the Imprisoned Writer". PEN American Center. 2009. Archived from the original on February 25, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "Reporters Without Borders Posts Statement that Led to Two-Year Jail Terms for Six Journalists". Reporters Without Borders. August 19, 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- "Attacks on the Press 2009: Gambia". Committee to Protect Journalists. February 16, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "Gambia: Six Journalists Condemned to Two Years in Mile 2 Prison". Amnesty International. August 7, 2009. Retrieved February 4, 2012.
- "The Gambia: Release of six trade union leaders and journalists". World Organization Against Torture. September 11, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "GMB 001 / 0609 / OBS 088.1 Sentencing / Arbitrary detention". International Federation for Human Rights. August 18, 2010. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "Gambia: Six journalists jailed for criticising President". International PEN. August 10, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "PEN Appeal: Six Jouranlists [sic] in the Gambia". PEN American Center. August 11, 2009. Archived from the original on September 5, 2012. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "The Gambia: Arrest of seven journalists for fighting impunity and expressing press freedom concerns". Front Line Defenders. June 18, 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- Chris Tryhorn (August 7, 2009). "Six journalists jailed in Gambia". The Guardian. Retrieved February 3, 2012.
- "ECOWAS court rules Gambia failed to investigate journalist murder". Committee to Protect Journalists (June 10, 2014). Committee to Protect Journalists. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- "Deyda Hydara Jr. and Others v. The Gambia". Open Society Foundations. June 9, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- "ECOWAS court awards Hydara family US$50,000". The Point Newspaper (June 12, 2014). Retrieved February 12, 2015.