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Twenty-one IFEX members call for investigation into murder of journalist Deyda Hydara, release of reporter Chief Ebrima Manneh

(MFWA/IFEX) - The following is a joint action by 21 IFEX members:

Embassy of the Republic of The Gambia
1156 15TH Street, N.W., Suite 905
Washington, D.C. 20005 USA
Tel: (202) 785-1399
Fax: (202) 785-1430

Dear President Yahya Jammeh:

We, the undersigned member organisations of the International Freedom of Expression eXchange (IFEX), join with the Network of African Freedom of Expression Organisations (NAFEO) in calling on your government to set up an independent investigation into the murder of journalist Deyda Hydara and immediately and unconditionally release Chief Ebrima B. Manneh, reporter at the Banjul based "Daily Observer" newspaper.

16 December 2007 is the third anniversary of the sad and brutal killing of Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara. Hydara, the prominent editor of "The Point" independent newspaper, was shot three times in the head on 16 December 2004 by unidentified gunmen while returning home from his office in Bakau, a district in Serrekunda, Gambia's largest city.

The murder of the journalist occurred at a time when he was using his newspaper to challenge new repressive legislation affecting media freedom in The Gambia.

Three years on, Deyda's murderers are still at large because no serious investigation has been carried out by the Gambian authorities.

Since this horrible murder, the journalist's family, friends and colleagues, human rights organisations, and the international community have continued to press for justice.

The first condition for enforcing justice is the identification and punishment of Deyda's murderers, but only an independent and international commission can conduct the investigation without any governmental interference. Only such a commission can conduct a credible investigation because journalists, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens who express views in contrast to those held by your government are regularly subjected to threats, arbitrary arrest, and detention. Indeed, torture and incommunicado detentions are frequently used by the notorious National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to silence all manner of persons.

Chief Ebrima B. Manneh, a journalist at the "Daily Observer" newspaper, was arrested in Banjul on 11 July 2006 by two agents of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA). Since then, he has been held incommunicado and moved from prison to prison.

And currently, at least two newspapers ("Citizen" and "Independent") and two radio stations (Citizen and SUD FM) remain forcibly and arbitrarily closed.

The undersigned organisations also call on your government to:
1. End the attacks against journalists and the media in The Gambia;
2. Reopen the offices of all closed media houses;
3. End the arbitrary arrest and detention of citizens who express opinions differing from the government's views.


Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR), Manama
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE), Toronto
Center for Human Rights and Democratic Studies (CEHURDES), Kathmandu
Center For Media Studies and Peace Building (CEMESP), Monrovia
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), New York
Ethiopian Free Press Journalists' Association (EFJA), Addis Ababa
Freedom House, New York
Free Media Movement (FMM), Colombo
Independent Journalism Center (IJC), Chisinau
Institute for Reporter Freedom and Safety (IRFS), Baku
Maharat Foundation, Beirut
Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA)
Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Lagos
National Union of Somali Journalists (NUSOJ), Mogadishu
Observatory for the Freedom of Press, Publishing and Creation in Tunisia (OLPEC), Tunis
Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF), Karachi
Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA), Bangkok
The World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters (AMARC), Sheffield
World Press Freedom Committee (WPFC), Reston
West African Journalists Association (WAJA), Dakar
Writers in Prison Committee (WiPC), International PEN, London

Media Foundation for West Africa

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