Oman: Oman: Internal Security Service arbitrarily arrests three human rights defenders

04.08.15

On the afternoon of 03 August 2015, human rights defenders Dr. Salih Al-Azri, Ali Al-Muqbali and Talib Al-Saedi were summoned to appear for investigation before the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in the capital, Muscat. The three defenders refused to comply, demanding an official warrant. Seven hours later, at exactly nine o'clock in the evening, security authorities arbitrarily arrested the three citizens and took them to an unknown destination.

The latest reports confirm that they are detained incommunicado at the Special Division in the Al-Qurum area of Muscat. The Special Division represents the executive body of the Omani Internal Security Service. 

According to information received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), the reason for the arrest of the three well-known human rights defenders is related to their peaceful and legitimate human rights work and activities on social media networks.

Dr. Salih Al Azri, a doctor working for the Ministry of Health, has written a lot about corruption in the health system of Oman. On 14 April 2013, he was arrested and detained until 19 April. He has been at the forefront of promoting freedom of expression and defending the rights of detained human rights defenders in Oman through social media such as Facebook.

Ali Al-Muqbali is a human rights defender and online activist who has written on social media networks about corruption and in defense of prisoners of conscience. He was also arrested in 2011 and 2012 solely in relation to his human rights work.

Talib Al-Saedi has been monitoring and documenting cases of detained activists by the Internal Security Service. He was previously arrested on 23 March 2015 and released on 13 April, also in relation to his human rights activities.  On 13 July 2014, he was arrested and interrogated after he called for a peaceful march in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

For more information about recent human rights violations committed by the Internal Security Service, see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6

GCHR expresses serious concern about the continued acts of threats, intimidation and surveillance directed at human rights defenders in Oman. The GCHR strongly condemns the harassment and intimidation by the Internal Security Service in Oman against human rights defenders and online activists in Oman.

The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:

1. Release the three human rights defenders, Dr. Salih Al-Azri, Ali Al-Muqbali and Talib Al-Saedi, immediately and unconditionally;

2. Stop directing pressures and harassment against the families of human rights defenders;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders 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”.