On 11 February, the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) stated that police investigating the murder of Lyra McKee had arrested four men under the Terrorism Act. The following day, on 12 February, the PSNI reported that one of the men had been charged with McKee’s murder, as well as possession of a firearm with intent to danger life, and professing to be a member of a proscribed organisation. He is due to appear at Derry Magistrates Court on 13 February.
“We welcome this important step towards justice for the senseless killing of Lyra McKee. No journalist should face the threat of violence in doing their job - not in the UK, and not anywhere. All those responsible for this heinous attack must be brought to justice, and better protections must be put in place to ensure the safety of journalists working throughout the country,” said RSF UK Bureau Director Rebecca Vincent.
Just 29 years old and described as a “rising star of investigative journalism,” McKee was shot dead in the line of duty during rioting in the Creggan area of Derry on 18 April 2019. The New IRA claimed responsibility for the killing, and police have treated the matter as an act of terrorism.
Following McKee’s murder, during a Global Conference on Media Freedom hosted in London from 10-11 July 2019, the UK government pledged to establish a National Committee for the Safety of Journalists, which will be tasked with devising a National Action Plan on Safety of Journalists and ensuring that those who threaten journalists are held to account.
RSF calls on the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to move forward in establishing the National Committee and National Action Plan without further delay.
The UK is ranked 33rd out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2019 World Press Freedom Index.