A park visitor wrapped in a Brazilian flag stands above a natural rock window in Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in Alto Paraiso, Brazil in March 2018. At least one unidentified gunman on March 25 fired at the offices of the weekly Jornal dos Bairros, according to reports. (Reuters/Ueslei Marcelino)

Brazilian newspaper offices shot at by unidentified gunman

March 27, 2018 5:59 PM ET

São Paulo, March 27, 2018--Brazilian authorities should immediately investigate a recent attack on the offices of the independent weekly Jornal dos Bairros in the southern state of Paraná and bring those responsible to justice, the Committee to Protect Journalists said today.

One unidentified gunman on March 25 around midnight fired at least three shots at the paper's main office in the city of Paranaguá as the week's edition was going to print, according to the paper's editor, Gilberto Fernandes.

Jornal dos Bairros mainly reports on local politics; Fernandes told CPJ he had previously received anonymous threats relating to the paper's coverage.

"Brazilian authorities must act swiftly to bring those responsible for the attack on Jornal dos Bairros offices to justice and show that attacks on the media will not be tolerated," said Natalie Southwick, CPJ's Central and South America research associate. "This most recent act of violence is a stark reminder that Brazil remains one of Latin America's most dangerous countries for journalists."

A spokesperson for the Paraná state civil police who refused to give her name said an investigation into the attack was ongoing.

Fernandes told CPJ that he was at his home, which is located next to the Jornal dos Bairros office, when he heard gunshots.

The editor said he watched on closed circuit cameras inside his home as the shooter fired at the office building. "Three [shots] hit the metal door and broke the second glass door [on the building's entrance]. If I had been working, I would have been hit by either the bullet or the flying glass," he told CPJ. Someone in a silver car transported the shooter to and from the scene, according to Fernandes.

The editor told CPJ that he has previously received threats relating to the paper's local news coverage. In September 2017, an anonymous man called Fernandes' home and told his daughter that he was going to beat up her father, the journalist said. In May 2017, a friend warned Fernandes that a political group that did not like Jornal dos Bairros' articles had talked about shooting up its offices. Fernandes said he did not report the threats to authorities.

"We have an independent editorial line; we do the basics of journalism; we hear all sides and then write the facts. It doesn't matter if it's a professor or a mayor or a garbage collector who is speaking," Fernandes said.

Jornal dos Bairros is distributed every Monday in Paranaguá and the neighboring cities of Morretos, Antonina, Guaraqueçaba, and Curitiba, Fernandes said.

Two Brazilian journalists were killed within a week of each other in January of this year. Impunity is widespread in the country, which ranks eighth on CPJ's Impunity Index, and where authorities have not sentenced anyone for the murder of a journalist since 2015.

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