Oman: Oman: Detained human rights defender’s health deteriorates, and popular writer arrested

19.04.16

Reliable reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirm that on 17 April 2016, the health of prominent human rights defender Saeed Jadad has deteriorated. In other news, the Internal Security Service (ISS) summoned writer and cinema critic Abdullah Habib and immediately arrested him.

On 17 April 2016, Jadad, who is detained at Arzat central prison in the city of Salalah, felt a pain in his heart associated with severe physical fatigue. He immediately asked the management of the prison to transfer him to a hospital but his request was rejected.

On 25 November 2015, state security forces raided the home of Jadad, detained and transferred him to Arzat Central prison. The arrest followed ratification by the Court of Appeal in Salalah on 18 November of the sentence issued by the Court of First Instance, of a one-year prison term and a fine of 1000 Omani Rials (2600 US$). Jadad was convicted on charges of the alleged “use of an information network (Internet) in the dissemination of material that would prejudice public order" according to the verdict issued by the Court of First Instance on 07 April 2015.

Jadad is a long-standing, prominent human rights defender in Oman. He was instrumental in organising and leading pro-reform protests in Dhofar in 2011 and has spoken publicly to crowds of up to 20,000 people. He is an active blogger and has signed several petitions calling for reform in Oman. He was arrested before many times in the past and served a travel ban before his latest arrest. 

On 15 April 2016, writer, cinema critic and online activist Abdullah Habib was summoned by the Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) to appear for investigation before the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in the capital, Muscat. He has been immediately detained incommunicado by the the Special Division which represents the executive arm of (ISS). He is not allowed to have access to his family or lawyer. Information received by GCHR suggest that his arrest is related to (firstly) his public support to the case of Hafiz Mohammad Shaker, the son of prominent human rights defender Habiba Al Hanaei, who faces the possibility of being deported from the country (See: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/1235) in addition (and secondly) to his writings on  facebook in which he defended the people’s rights in Oman.

Habib is well-known writer and cinema critic who is 53 years of age. He produced many short films and published a few books in addition to many articles in the national newspapers. He has received many awards for his work.

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

GCHR expresses serious concern at the refusal of the administration at Arzat Central prison to transfer Saeed Jadad to the hospital, although he faces a critical health condition, and holds them responsible for their inhuman action. Also the GCHR condemns the arrest and incommunicado detention of Abdullah Habib, whose achievements should be celebrated instead of leading to persecution.

The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to: 

  1. Release both Saeed Jadad and Abdullha Habib immediately and without any conditions;
  2. Transfer Saeed Jadad to a specialized hospital immediately to get the required medical treatment;  
  3. Grant Abdullah Habib immediate and unfettered access to his family and lawyer; and
  4. 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.