Oman: Oman: Writer and journalist Almoatasem Al-Bahlani detained by Internal Security Service
Update: Oman: On 28 July 2016, writer and journalist Almoatasem Al-Bahlani has been released from detention.
Writer and journalist Almoatasem Al-Bahlani has been detained by the Internal Security Service (ISS) in Oman, reports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).
On 26 July 2016, Al-Bahlani was summoned by the ISS via telephone to appear immediately for investigation before the Special Division of the Omani Police General Command in Muscat. According to reports received by GCHR, he was not given any access to his family or lawyer following his detention.
Al-Bahlani is a writer and the Editor-in-Chief of online magazine “Al-Falq”. He is also an active social media user with almost 60,000 followers on Twitter, which he uses to express his views about various issues.
In one of his recent tweets, which is pinned to the top of his feed, he says, “Worse than having only corrupt judges is the existence of a corrupt judicial system, and the sad thing is if they met together in a country.” In another tweet he said that Oman is not, as suggested by some pro-government individuals, a 46-year-old country - which is the period during which Sultan Qaboos has ruled the country, but its history goes thousands of years back (before the rule of Sultan Qaboos began in 1970.)
It is believed that he is being detained in relation to his recent activities on social media networks, in particular his Twitter account, in addition to an article which was published in “Al-Falq” entitled “Oman in the Panama Documents” (The Panama Documents revealed a large-scale corruption scandal that spans the globe.)
For more information about recent human rights violations committed by the ISS, see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6
GCHR expresses serious concern at the incommunicado detention of Almoatasem Al-Bahlani. GCHR believes that he is being targeted as part of an ongoing trend against human rights defenders and online activists which is endangering freedom of expression in Oman at the hands of the ISS.
GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Immediately and without any conditions release Almoatasem Al-Bahlani;
- Immediately release all human rights defenders and prisoners of conscience in Oman whose detention relates only to the peaceful and legitimate work in the promotion and protection of human rights; 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.”