A court in the Gambia’s capital, Banjul has issued an arrest warrant for two Gambian soldiers named in the killing of journalist Deyda Hydara.
Major Sanna Manjang and Colonel Kawsu Camara were part of Gambia’s former dictator, Yahya Jammeh’s paramilitary hit squad, the Jungulars, implicated in human rights violations including arbitrary detention, killing, enforced disappearance, and torture.
Hydara, a journalist critical of the Jammeh regime was assassinated in November 2004 by Jammeh’s special forces. Jammeh refused to open an independent investigation into his death, choosing to blame the newspaper publisher of “causing his own death by attacking people.”
Major Manjang has fled the country since Jammeh’s defeat in the December elections. He is reportedly in hiding in the Guinea-Bissau, a small West African nation of fewer than two million people, riddled with coups and drug trafficking.
Colonel Kawsu “Bombardier” Camara’s whereabouts remain unknown since his release from prison in 2015. He was implicated in a thwarted putsch to overthrow Mr. Jammeh. Jammeh, turning a so-called new page for reconciliation pardoned him.
Jammeh’s government ignored a ruling by a regional court, ECOWAS Community Court to pay $50,000 in damages to the family of Deyda Hydara.
The arrest warrant is regarded as the first sign of victory towards securing justice for the Hydara family. Hydara’s killing as brought attention to repression of freedom of speech in the Gambia, where the press is forced into self-censorship.
Jammeh’s regime stifled media freedom through a combination of criminal prosecutions, physical intimidation, censorship, and the promotion of government views in state-run or friendly private outlets, causing many journalists to be jailed or flee.