Oman: Update: Oman- Judicial harassment of human rights defenders and activists continues

13.09.12

Further to our four previous appeals, dated 29 June 2012, 18 July 2012, 9 August 2012, and 29 August 2012 (For more information kindly see:  https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6)  regarding the trial of human rights defenders in Oman, the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received information that six human rights defenders and activists have been handed down prison sentences by the Court of First Instance in Muscat for exercising their right to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly.

On 09 September 2012, the Court of First Instance in Muscat has sentenced 6 human rights defenders and advocates of reform, convicted for allegedly insulting the Sultan by publishing “offensive Writings and violating information technology law.” The convicted 6 defenders and their sentences are listed below:

  1. Mr. Ismael Al-Miqbali
  2. Mr Nabhan Al-Hanshi
  3. Mr. Mahmoud Mohamed Al-Jamodi
  4. Mr. Hassan Al-Ruqayshi

The four activists mentioned above sentenced to one year and 6 months in prison, a fine of 1000 Rials (2600 US$) in addition to a bail of 1500 Rials (3900 US$) pending the appeal of their sentences.

  1. Mr. Isaac Al-Agbary
  2. Mr. Ali Al-Haji

The two activists mentioned above sentenced to one year in prison, a fine of 1000 Rials (2600 US$) in addition to a bail of 1500 Rials (3900 US$) pending the appeal of their sentences. 

 The court adjourned the trial of the following four activists until 16 September 2012:

  1. Mr. Khalfan Al-Badwawi
  2. Mr. Khaled Saleh Al-Nawfali
  3. Mr. Sultan Al-Sa’adi
  4. Mr. Hatem Al-Maliki

 Activists Khaled Saleh Al-Nawfali, Sultan Al-Sa’adi, and Hatem Al-Maliki have paid 500 Riyals (1300 US$) for a technical expert who will be appointed by the presiding judge to study the claim of the defendants that their Facebook accounts were hacked into in the past. 

Human rights defender Mukhtar Mohamed Al-Hinaei told the court that he is not in a position to pay the required 500 Riyal (1300 US$) fee in order for his Facebook page to be examined. He informed the judge that the public prosecution office has been provided before with evidence shows that his Facebook account was hacked into while he was in detention.

Woman human rights defender Habiba Al-Hanaei has been summoned few days ago by the special branch of the police force in Oman. The woman defender was forced to sign a declaration in which she stated that she will not publish any information related to the trial of human rights defenders and activists in Oman.  

The GCHR believes that the sentencing of the aforementioned 6 human rights defenders and activist is directly related to the legitimate exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of assembly. The issuance of these sentences represents a continuation of a common pattern now in Oman, which is using the politicized judiciary to target defenders and activists.  

The GCHR condemns in the strongest terms the harassment campaign against woman rights defenders Habiba Al-Hanaei which proves once again that the freedom of expression in Oman remains under siege.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) calls on the authorities in Oman to:

  1. Immediately and unconditionally revoke all the sentences against the aforementioned human rights defenders and activist;
  2. Immediately stop the harassment campaign against woman human rights defenders Habiba Al-Hanaei;`
  3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders and journalists in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment. 

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, 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 (b and c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (b) As provided for in human rights and other applicable international instruments, freely to publish, impart or disseminate to others views, information and knowledge on all human rights and fundamental freedoms; (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): “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.

Please write immediately in English, Arabic, or your own language to:

1. Urge the authorities to immediately and unconditionally revoke all the sentences against the aforementioned human rights defenders and activist;

2. Stop immediately from targeting human rights defenders and activists who are engaged in their peaceful and legitimate human rights work.

Please Send Appeals now TO:

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Sa’id

Head of State, Prime Minister, Foreign Affairs, Defense and Finance Minister

Diwan of the Royal Court

The Palace

Muscat 113

Sultanate of Oman

Fax: +968 24 735 375

 

His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud bin Faisal bin Said Al Busaidi

Minister of the Interior

Ministry of Interior

PO Box 127

Ruwi 112

Muscat

Sultanate of Oman

 

 Mr Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Riyami

Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

P.O.Box 29, Postal Code: 103

Bareq A' Shati

Muscat, Sultanate of Oman

Fax: +968 24648801

Email: enquiry@nhrc.om

 

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Syria, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.