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16 December 2007 is the third anniversary of the brutal killing of Gambian journalist Deyda Hydara. While family members and colleagues marked the occasion by marching from his home to his grave, 21 IFEX members, in a joint action led by the Media Foundation for West Africa (MFWA), demanded that the Gambian authorities "enforce justice" and set up an independent investigation into his murder.

Hydara, editor of the only remaining independent newspaper in the Gambia, "The Point", was shot three times in the head on 16 December 2004 by unidentified gunmen, while returning home from his office in Bakau, Gambia's largest city. Hydara had been using "The Point" to challenge new, repressive press freedom laws in the country.

In this deteriorating press freedom climate, and where torture and detentions are frequently used to silence journalists, "only an independent and international commission can conduct the investigation without any governmental interference," says the joint letter. "Only such a commission can conduct a credible investigation because of the threats, arbitrary arrests, and detention of journalists, opposition politicians and ordinary citizens who express any views remotely in contrast to what the government of President Yahya Jammeh holds."

President Jammeh "has learned nothing" from Hydara's murder, says the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). "The international mobilisation to bring Deyda's killer to justice unfortunately has not stopped attacks on press freedom."

IFJ points to thee journalists who fled the country this year due to fears for their safety, two journalists facing "long and senseless" trials for writing articles that criticised the government, and the continued detention of "Chief" Ebrimah Manneh, a journalist at the "Daily Observer" newspaper, who was arrested in Banjul in July 2006 and has been held incommunicado ever since. In their letter, the IFEX members also called for Manneh's release and for a reopening of at least four media houses that have been forcibly closed.

Read the joint action here:

Also visit these links:
- IFEX alerts on the Gambia:
- IFJ:
(18 December 2007)

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