Military police check suspects on January 8, 2019, in Fortaleza, Brazil. On February 7, 2022, the founder of Pirambu News, Givanildo Oliveira, was shot and killed in Fortaleza. (Reuters/Paulo Whitaker)

Pirambu News founder Givanildo Oliveira shot dead in Brazil

Rio de Janeiro, February 11, 2022 – Brazilian authorities must promptly and thoroughly investigate the killing of Givanildo Oliveira and determine if the crime was in retaliation to his work as a community journalist, the Committee to Protect Journalists said Friday.

On the night of Monday, February 7, Oliveira, founder and journalist of news website Pirambu News, was shot and killed by an unidentified man in the Pirambu neighborhood in Fortaleza, the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Ceará, according to multiple news reports and a statement from the Ceará Journalists Union.

Oliveira had been threatened and warned not to publish information about local criminals, according to a statement from the Brazilian Association of Investigative Journalism (Abraji), and his death followed the publication of a report about the detention of a local man suspected of double homicide, according to privately owned news website Diário do Nordeste.

“Ceará state authorities should ensure a prompt and thorough investigation into the killing of journalist Givanildo Oliveira and identify the motive behind the killing to determine whether it was indeed related to his work,” said Natalie Southwick, CPJ’s Latin America and Caribbean program coordinator, in New York. “Local news outlets and community journalism play a crucial role in informing the population and giving visibility to issues those communities face daily. It is deeply disturbing that local journalists could be at such a high risk simply for reporting the news, and authorities must ensure they can report safely.”

Security camera footage, published by privately owned newspaper O Povo, shows Oliveira walking in the street when a man runs toward him, throws him to the ground, shoots him approximately four times in the head and upper body, and then flees the scene.

Pirambu News covers the neighborhood and surrounding areas, including reports on crime and policing, on its website and social media channels.

A day after Oliveira’s killing, online news outlet Portal de Fortaleza, which covers local news in the Fortaleza neighborhood of Vila Manoel Sátiro, announced on Instagram that it would no longer cover crime and policing issues.

Journalist Paulo Sérgio Damasceno, founder of Portal de Fortaleza, told CPJ in a phone interview that he and the outlet’s team were extremely concerned about the incident and, although they hadn’t received any threats, “decided to no longer cover policing issues in order to avoid becoming a target.”

“There is an unconfirmed suspicion that the murder may have been in retaliation to [his] work,” Rafael Mesquita, president of the Ceará Journalists Union, told CPJ by phone, adding that “authorities should open their eyes about the specificities of violence against journalists.”

Investigations are ongoing, according to a statement emailed to CPJ by the Public Security and Social Defense Secretary of Ceará state press office; however the office did not answer CPJ’s other questions about possible motivations, potential suspects, and if Oliveira had reported being threatened.

CPJ was unable to find contact information for Oliveira’s family.

Editor’s note: This alert was updated to fix a typo in the second paragraph.