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Oman: Writer Mansour Al-Mahrazi awaiting appeal following three-year prison sentence

2017-08-13

Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that the trial of the writer and researcher Mansour Bin Nasser Al-Mahrazi is ongoing in connection to two books he wrote in 2014 and 2016. He is waiting for the appeal court to fix a date after he appealed the initial verdict issued against him.

On 23 May 2017, the Court of First Instance in Muscat held its fourth and last session in the trial of Al-Mahrazi, when he was convicted of "insulting the Sultan" and "undermining the status of the country." Judge Yousef Al-Feliti, who presided over the hearing, sentenced him to three years in prison in addition to 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.

During the trial, the judge refused to hear defense witnesses, confirming what observers said about the court failing to meet the minimum international standards for fair trial and due process.

Al-Mahrazi spent at least two months in custody at the Omani Police Special Division in Muscat in incommunicado detention. He was released on 23 May, the day of the trial on bail of 2,000 after he appealed the verdict and was transferred to the Police hospital suffering from back pain. The pain endured although he was able to leave the hospital and is free on bail.

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 recent arrest and trail.

For more information about the case of Mansour Al-Mahrazi please see:

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

GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the ongoing trial of Mansour Bin Nasser Al-Mahrazi, which is further evidence of the repressive approach of the Omani government against writers, journalists and bloggers.

GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to: 

  1. Halt the targeting of Mansour Al-Nahrazi immediately and revoke the three-year prison term;
  2. Protect freedom of opinion and freedom of the press in Oman; and
  3. 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.