Oman: Oman: Online Activist Hassan Al-Basham Detained
Online activist Hassan Al-Basham has been detained for over a month by the Internal Security Service (ISS) in Oman and is being held at the Special Division of the Omani police in Sohar. He has no proper access to his family or lawyer, according to reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR), which calls for his immediate release.
On 17 September 2015, Al-Basham was first arrested by the ISS and appeared before the Special Division of the Omani Police in Sohar. He was released on 23 September 2015, and then arrested again two days later, on 25 September 2015, and subjected to a prolonged interrogation at the Special Division in Sohar.
On 18 October 2015, Al-Basham was reportedly transferred to the Public Prosecution Office in Sohar that directed several charges against him including allegedly “insulting the Sultan” and “undermining the prestige of the state.” The first hearing in the trial will reportedly be held on 30 October 2015.
Al-Basham is an online activist who with his numerous writings has defended prisoners of conscience. He also carries out other activities on the social and humanitarian levels. He participated in the 2011 protests during the Arab Spring, which in Oman focused on improving social conditions such as more jobs, as well as combatting corruption.
For more information about recent human rights violations committed by the ISS in Oman see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6
The GCHR expresses serious concern at the detention of Hassan Al-Basham and fears for his physical and psychological integrity. The GCHR believes that he is being targeted as part of an ongoing trend of targeting human rights defenders and online activists in Oman which endangers freedom of expression in the country.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Ensure the release of online activist Hassan Al-Basham immediately and unconditionally;
- Grant Hassan Al-Basham immediate and unfettered access to his family and lawyer;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Hassan Al-Basham;
- 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 the Omani authorities 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, recognizes 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.”