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Oman: Public Prosecution threatens Internet activists working in exile

2017-04-04

The Public Prosecution held its annual press conference in Muscat, Oman, during which it threatened Internet activists, who are engaged in peaceful activities while in exile, with prosecution in order to silence them.

On 27 March 2017, the Public Prosecution convened its annual conference in the Public Prosecution Department Complex at the Airport Heights to highlight the work of the Public Prosecution last year as well as shed light on its future plans. During the press conference, Internet activists residing outside the country were threatened that "Criminal Extradition Law" procedures would be followed. Procedures set forth in bilateral and collective international agreements to extradite the alleged "criminals" would be implemented immediately if Omani activists posted on the Internet and they would be handed over to "Justice", according to what was said during the conference.

These statements were widely published in pro-government newspapers and websites such as “Oman” newspaper and “Oman News” on Twitter at the following links:
http://omandaily.om/?p=454894

https://twitter.com/oman1_news/status/847103337203990528

The authorities in Oman have not only strangled public freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression inside the country, but they are now trying to silence free voices that are active on the Internet outside the country. This is in itself a blatant violation of the civil and human rights of a group of Omani citizens who have emigrated from their own country due to repression imposed on them by the authorities.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) condemns continuous attempts by the authorities in Oman to implement systematic measures that eliminate public freedoms, including freedom of the press and freedom of expression on and off the Internet. Instead, they should support and protect Internet activists as well as human rights defenders, journalists and other civil society activists.

The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:

  1. Stop directing threats, pressure and judicial and security harassment against human rights defenders, including journalists and Internet activists in and outside Oman, and respect freedom of expression and freedom of the press in full;
  2. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders including journalists, writers and on-line activists in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.   

The GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c) “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters” and to Article 12.2, which provides that “the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.