Four arrested over 2019 killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Northern Ireland

This statement was originally published on on 16 September 2021.

The arrests of four additional suspects in connection with the 2019 killing of journalist Lyra McKee in Derry are a welcome step, but highlight the continued need for justice for her murder. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) continues to campaign for justice for McKee and steps to improve the climate for safety of journalists in Northern Ireland.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) confirmed that four men – ages 19, 20, 21 and 33 – were arrested on 15 September in relation to the April 2019 murder of journalist Lyra McKee, who was killed observing rioting in the Creggan area of Derry. They have not yet been charged. The latest arrests follow the February 2020 arraignment of Paul McIntyre, who is currently out on bail awaiting trial in connection with McKee’s murder.

“We welcome the apparent progress in the investigation into the murder of journalist Lyra McKee, but are concerned that there has still not been justice nearly two and a half years on. Delayed justice has only contributed to a worrying overall climate for media in Northern Ireland, where concrete measures are urgently needed to ensure the safety of journalists,” said Rebecca Vincent, Director of International Campaigns and UK Bureau Director.

Ahead of the second anniversary of her killing in April 2021, McKee’s family members issued a public appeal in their campaign for justice, writing 8,000 letters to local residents and erecting billboards around Derry, calling for anyone with information to come forward.

RSF continues to raise concerns about the worrying press freedom climate in Northern Ireland, which remains the most dangerous place for journalists to do their jobs in the UK — particularly those covering paramilitary activities and organised crime. In a dispatch following a mission to Belfast and Derry in March 2020, RSF issued a series of recommendations to the UK government to improve the climate for safety of journalists in Northern Ireland, and continues to advocate for their implementation.

The UK is ranked 33rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2021 World Press Freedom Index. McKee’s murder marked a low point for press freedom in the UK, where a journalist had not been killed in the line of duty since the assassination of Martin O’Hagan in September 2001.

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Human Rights Network for Journalists-Uganda (HRNJ-Uganda) is a network of human rights journalists in Uganda working towards enhancing the promotion, protection and respect of human rights through defending and building the capacities of journalists, to effectively exercise their constitutional rights and fundamental freedoms for collective campaigning through the media.

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