Gambia: Ex-president Jammeh must be tried for the murder of journalist and union leader

On 22nd July a Gambian army officer accused ex-president Yahya Jammeh of ordering the 2004 murder of journalist and former head of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Deyda Hydara and confessed he was himself involved in the killing. The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ) joins its affiliate the GPU in demanding that Jammeh is brought to trial in the Gambia.

Deyda Hydara in an AFP office, 1999. Seyllou/AFP

Deyda Hydara was shot in his car near the Gambian capital Banjul on 16 December, 2004. He was editor of the independent daily The Point  and a correspondent for AFP news agency. He was known for being critical of the government.

The accusation was made before Gambia’s Truth, Reconciliation and Reparations Commission (TRRC) by Lieutenant Malick Jatta, who has been held in custody over this case since February 2017. "We opened fire, myself, Alieu Jen and Sana Manjang," he said. Alieu Jen is also in prison while Sana Manjang was charged but is on the run. 

Malick Jatta has accused Yahya Jammeh of being the mastermind behind the crime. The ex-president was reportedly on the phone with Jatta’s commander during the operation and allegedly offered money to the killers later on.

Jammeh was President of Gambia from 1996 to 2017 and now lives in exile in Equatorial Guinea. The TRRC was set up in October 2018 to investigate alleged violations of human rights under his rule.

The GPU said: “The Union reminds the Gambian government of its obligation to pursue justice and bring to book every perpetrator, including exiled ex-president Yahya Jammeh, for the killing of Deyda and all other crimes against journalists of which his government perpetrated or failed in its duty to investigate.”

IFJ General Secretary Anthony Bellanger said: “We have been asking for justice for our brother Deyda Hydara for many years and it is time to end the impunity. We call on the Gambian government to request Yahya Jammeh’s extradition so that he can stand trial where his alleged crimes were committed. Justice must be done!"

For more information, please contact IFJ on +32 2 235 22 16

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