Oman: Oman: Writer and online activist Saed Al-Darodi sentenced to three months in prison
On 15 February 2016, the Court of Appeal in Salalah, Oman sentenced writer and online activist Saed Al-Darodi to three months in prison. On 07 October 2014, he published on his facebook page a post entitled: “I’m not Omani….I’m Dhofari” in which he said that he is proud to be a Dhofari. Reports confirm that he did not attend the hearing and that he is still free, but he could be arrested at any time to serve the sentence. It is believed that this facebook post has led to his arbitrary arrest, detention and recent sentence.
On 10 October 2014, Al-Darodi was summoned to appear before the Special Division of the Omani Police in Salalah, where he was detained incommunicado with no access to his family or lawyer. He was only released on 05 November 2014.
On 18 March 2015, the Court of First Instance in Salalah sentenced him in absentia to one year in prison after he was accused of allegedly “disturbing public order.” He was also sentenced to six months in prison and a fine of 1000 Omani Rials (approximately 2600 US$) on a charge of allegedly “spreading sedition and hatred.”
Al-Darodi is a writer and poet who has published several books, as well as being an online activist, a cartoonist and founder of the “Dhofar Cynical Art Group".
GCHR expresses serious concern at the arrest, incommunicado detention and three-month prison sentence of Al-Darodi. GCHR believes that his conviction is part of an ongoing trend of targeting online activists in Oman by the Internal Security Service (ISS), which endangers freedom of expression in the country.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Revoke the three-month prison sentence against Saed Al-Darodi;
- Refrain from targeting Saed Al-Darodi as a result of exercising his right to freedom of expression on the Internet; and
- 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.”