A year after the fall of The Gambia’s former ruler Yahya Jammeh, freedom of expression and the press is beginning to return to the country. The small West African country, surrounded by Senegal, saw the end of Jammeh’s 22-year rule last year.
Under Jammeh, media and dissent were often stifled. More than 110 journalists went into exile.
Among them was Baba Hydara, who returned to The Gambia from the US to take over the management of the daily newspaper, The Point, which was founded by his father and Pap Saine in 1992. Hydara’s father, Deyda, a journalist and activist for human rights and freedom of expression, was murdered in 2004.
By returning to his homeland, Hydara is determined to see his father’s killers pay, and promote the values of a free press.
“I left Gambia one month after my father’s murder,” Hydara told Al Jazeera.
“This was 13 years ago! Now that I’m back to my homeland, I want to do all I can to follow his steps and commitment for freedom of expression,” he added.
But laws, implemented under Jammeh, that restrict free speech and the media remain.
According to Information Minister Demba Jawo, a committee has been set up to examine media reform.
This committee, which includes the ministry’s technicians, members of the Journalists’ Union, press publishers, civil society members and the Ministry of Justice, began its work last month.