Today, December 16 2012 marks the tenth anniversary of the gruesome murder of Deyda Hydara, a co-proprietor and managing editor of The Point Newspaper. He was assassinated in a drive-by shooting.
Yet the gunmen behind this nefarious act are yet to be arrested and brought to book.
Following his death, the Open Society Initiative instituted civil
action against the Gambia Government at the ECOWAS Community Court of
Justice asking for the following prayers;
• A declaration that the Defendant’s failure to effectively
investigate, and hold accountable those responsible for the 16
December 2004 assassination of Deyda Hydara…. is in violation of his
right to life as guaranteed by Articles 1 and 4 of the African
• A declaration that the defendant is in contravention of Articles 1
and 4 of the African Charter, by virtue of creating and tolerating a
state of systemic impunity in the Gambia for violent attacks against
media practitioners and other government critics.
• A declaration that the defendant’s failure to effectively
investigate the unlawful killing of Mr. Hydara is in violation of his
rights to freedom of expression and the press guaranteed by Articles 9
of the African Charter and Article 66 of the Revised Community Treaty.
• General and special damages for pecuniary and non-pecuniary loss to
be paid to the first two applicants, and other heirs to Mr. Hydara as
compensation for the violation of their father’s human rights to life
and freedom of expression to be quantified at the appropriate stage in
• An order that the defendant pay the applicants’ costs of this
action, in accordance with Article 66 of the Court’s rules of
Following the hearing of the matter, the ECOWAS Court later in 2014
delivered judgment in favour of the plaintiffs and it states, “The
plaintiffs are awarded compensation in the sum of fifty thousand US
dollars (US$50,000.00) for the prejudice suffered as a result of the
defendant’s failure to investigate the assassination of Deyda Hydara
Sr. Costs of ten thousand US dollars (US$10,000.00) is awarded in
favour of the plaintiffs against the defendant.”
The Gambia Press Union once again calls on the Government of The
Gambia to expend all its efforts and tools to investigate this matter
in order to bring the culprits to book. Failure to bring the
perpetrators of this heinous crime to book will only entrench a
culture of impunity in our society, which is inimical to democracy.
It is the responsibility of the Government to protect the right to
life of all Gambians as enshrined in Section 18 of the 1997
constitution, which states, ‘No person shall be deprived of his or her
life intentionally of right to life except in the execution of a
sentence of death imposed by a court of competent jurisdiction in
respect of a criminal offence for which the penalty is death under the
Laws of The Gambia as they have effect in accordance with subsection
(2) and of which he or she has been lawfully convicted’.
Thus the Government of the Gambia should move heaven and earth to
bringing these criminals to book as this barbaric act has no place in
a civilized democratic society.
The murder of Deyda is a fundamental human rights violation that goes
against the very essence of our constitution and all regional and
international instruments that the Gambia has ratified. These include
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the African Charter on
Human and Peoples Rights, hence the responsibility to ensure justice
prevails and the protection of human rights in our society lies
squarely in the hands of the Government.
Given the fact that the Gambia Government has several progressive
allies in the world, we recommend that the Government should solicit
support from the international community to enable her to unearth the