By KebbaJeffang

Foroyaa is serializing the presentations made at the Deyda Hydara Memorial Lecture organised annually by the Gambia Press Deyda HydaraUnion (GPU) in commemoration of his unsolved murder by unknown assailants. The event was held on Sunday, 20 December, 2015 marking the 11th anniversary since he was killed in cold blood on 16 December 2004. We are starting with the statement delivered by the GPU.





 Compatriots, Journalists and Friends of the Media, Wednesday, December 16 2015 marked the 11th anniversary of the murder of Deyda Hydara, the co-proprietor and managing editor of The Point Newspaper.

He was assassinated in a drive-by shooting. Yet the gunmen behind this shameful act are yet to be arrested and brought to book.

The Gambia Press Union (GPU) 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 murderers to book. Failure to bring them to book will only entrench a culture of impunity in our society, which is inimical to democracy.

The Gambia Government and indeed all Gambians need to realize that a culture of impunity in any society threatens the very security and safety of the life of each and every one in that society, sooner or later.
What happened to Deyda can happen to any other Gambian at any time. Besides a fundamental constitutional requirement, the Government is to protect the right to life of all Gambian as stated in Section 18 of our constitution. Thus the Government of the Gambia bears the primary duty to protect the life of Deyda and indeed all citizens.
They 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 truth.

Today, colleagues in the media, friends, well-wishers and Family are gathered here to commemorate his 11th anniversary with renewed call on the government of The Gambia to find those who killed him. We hope and pray that before the 12th anniversary of the assassination of Deyda Hydara, his killer(s) will be arrested, arraigned and face the full force of the Laws of The Gambia.

This year, besides the traditional seminar which will look at the role of media in a democracy, the GPU will launch the first ever annual Deyda Hydara Memorial Lecture Series. The theme for this maiden edition is: The Gambia at 50: The role of the media in the independence struggle.

The Media in my view has a crucial role to play in a democracy. The media has an important role to play in the promotion and sustenance of democratic gains.

This is why section 25 of the Gambia Constitution guarantees the right of every person to freedom of expression.

It states, “Every person has a right to freedom of expression including that of the media.”

The UN Human Rights Committee is conscious of the vital role the media plays in the promotion of democratic values and shaping public opinion and this is why it calls on State Parties to the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political rights not to criminalize offences such as criminal defamation, false news and sedition.

In order for the Media to play its watchdog role in society as provided for the Gambian Constitution, it should have access to information and be free to investigate and interrogate government policies

As we speak, Gambia is the only Anglophobe speaking country in neither West Africa that neither has a bill nor an Access to Information Act. The absence of this law makes it difficult for journalists to carry put their watchdog role as provided for by the Gambia Constitution.

Media Practitioners have a duty to provide accurate and balanced information to members of society with a view to paving way for citizens to make informed choices about their lives. Besides providing vital information to society, media practitioners have a duty to provoke public debates that would lead to mass participation on issues on national importance.

It is the duty of journalists to investigate and expose all forms of human rights violations carried out by either state or non state actors. This, I believe, will ensure impunity will not be nurtured in society.

Media practitioners should create the enabling environment for politicians to not only share their manifestos with the public, but to provide them with space

As we mark eleventh year of the anniversary of the murder of Deyda Hydara, the GPU wishes to extend our condolences, particularly to the Hydara Family, under the leadership of Deyda’s progressive wife, Marie Hydara and The Point Newspaper, under the leadership of (Uncle) Pap Saine, a publisher and a co-founder.

We seize this opportunity to thank the Management and staff of all Media Houses, the public and veteran Journalists for their continuous guidance and support.