Oman: Two environmental activists await trial after a third activist acquitted

14.03.21

On 03 March 2021, the First Instance Court in Salalah, the capital city of Dhofar Governorate, held a session during which it decided to release the environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan on bail until the date of the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place on 17 March 2021.

Likewise, the same court of First Instance held a second hearing on 10 March 2021, during which it acquitted Internet activist Amer Muslim Bait Saeed (Amr Al-Hakali) of the charges against him and decided to release him. The court also decided to release the poet and Internet activist Salem Ali Al-Maashani on bail until the trial hearing scheduled for 17 March 2021.

On 23 February 2021, Dr. Qatan was summoned to appear before the Special Division of the Salalah Police Command, where he was arrested. The Special Division represents the executive arm of the Internal Security Service (ISS), which executes, on its behalf, arrest and detention orders for activists. On 28 February 2021, the security authorities in Dhofar Governorate arrested the two activists Salem Ali Al-Maashani and Amer Muslim Bait Saeed (Amr Al-Hakali).

The case is related to ISS campaign against activists who are seeking to preserve the traditional way of life in the Dhofar Plain that has existed for hundreds of years. They reject plans to transfer authority over the Dhofar Plain to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning, which will allow the construction of housing complexes in these green spaces.

The referral letter alleged that Dr. Qatan had committed "a misdemeanor to use the Internet to publish information that would harm the public order, according to the text of Article 19 of the Omani Cyber Crime Law."

The sheikhs of the Governorate of Dhofar and those affected by the decision to transfer the authority of the Dhofar Plain have addressed the Sultan of Oman in a letter on the matter and they are awaiting his response

For more information on the case, see: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/2622

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) call on the authorities in Oman to drop all charges against Dr. Ahmed Issa Qattan and Salem Ali Al-Maashani, and to immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting other opinions and targeting human rights defenders, including Internet activists. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet.