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Oman: Writer Mansour Al-Mahrazi sentenced to three years in prison

2017-05-24

The Court of First Instance in Muscat, Oman has sentenced writer and researcher Mansour Bin Nasser Al-Mahrazi to three years in prison for two books he wrote in 2014 and 2016.

On 23 May 2017, the Court of First Instance in Muscat held its fourth and last session in its trial of Al-Mahrazi, where he was charged with "insulting the Sultan" and "undermining the status of the country." He was convicted by Judge Yousef Al-Feliti, who presided over the hearing and sentenced him to three years in prison plus a fine of 500 Omani Rials (1300 US$) and a bail of 2000 Omani Rials (5200 US$) in order for him to appeal the verdict. It is worth mentioning that the judge has refused to hear defense witnesses.

Reports confirmed that Al-Mahrazi is currently in the Police hospital suffering from back pain after being transferred from the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in Muscat where he was held incommunicado for at least two months.  

The verdict is related to the publication by Al-Mahrazi of two books, the first one in 2014 entitled “State and Society in Oman”, and a second book which he published at the end of 2016, entitled “Oman in the square of corruption”, which led to his arrest and detention.

According to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the two books have been removed from the Omani book market. However, the Omani Public Prosecution has filed charges against Mansour Al-Mahrazi in continuation of the policy of repressing public freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

For more information about the case of Mansour Al-Mahrazi please follow the link below:

http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1592

GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the three-year prison sentence issued against Mansour Bin Nasser Al-Mahrazi, which is a further evidence of the repressive approach of the Omani government against writers, journalists and bloggers.

GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to: 

  1. Release Mansour Al-Mahrazi immediately and revoke the three-year prison term;
  2. Ensure the physical and psychological integrity and security of Mansour Al-Mahrazi as long as he is in detention;
  3. Protect freedom of opinion and freedom of the press in Oman; and
  4. Guarantee in all circumstances that 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. 

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.