Oman: Oman: Human rights defender Mohammed Al-Fazari held incommunicado
Update: He has been released without charge on 04 September 2014.
On 30 August 2014, human rights defender Mohammed Al-Fazari was summoned by the General Directorate of Inquiries and criminal investigations of the Oman Police in Muscat. According to an official letter he received, he was ordered to appear at 9am on the same day to discuss “a personal matter.” Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirmed that he went to the office of the Police HQ in Al-Qurum area and has since disappeared. It is believed that he is being detained incommunicado at the Special Division of the Oman Police in Muscat, located in the same office.
Al-Fazari is a well-known human rights defender and blogger in Oman. He is also the founder and editor of the e-magazine “Citizen”. He was arrested previously on 11 June 2012 and sentenced by the Court of First Instance in Muscat on 8 August 2012 together with 10 other human rights defenders to one year in prison and a fine of 200 Rials (520US$) on charges including illegal assembly, disturbing public order and violating the cyber-crime law. On 17 March 2013, the Court of Appeal in Muscat ordered his release.
The GCHR expresses serious concern at the incommunicado detention of Al-Fazari and fears for his physical and psychological integrity. The GCHR believes that this targeting is solely motivated by his human rights work and views this act as part of an ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Oman.
The GCHR urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Ensure the release of human rights defender Mohammed Al-Fazari immediately and unconditionally;
- Guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of Mohammed Al-Fazari;
- 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 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 (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.”