Oman: Oman: Authorities continue to target human rights defenders
Omani authorities continue to systematically target human rights defenders and Internet activists, including sentencing them to jail for expressing their opinions reports the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR).
On 17 March 2015, the Court of First Instance in Salalah held its first hearing in the trial of prominent human rights defender Saed Jadad, on charges that he allegedly violated the Information Technology Act. Reports have confirmed that details of the charges were not clear. Jadad stated, "I expressed my personal opinion that is guaranteed to me by the local and international laws." The court adjourned the hearing to 31 March 2015 and the judge rejected the defense team’s request to release Jadad on bail.
In a separate case, on 8 March 2015, the Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced Jadad to three years in prison on several different charges related to freedom of expression. According to reports received by the GCHR, the Appeal hearing of this verdict will be held on 1 April 2015. For more information see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/935
In addition, on 18 March 2015, the Court of First Instance in Salalah sentenced writer and online activist Saed Al-Darodi in absentia to one year in prison on charges of disturbing public order and another six months on charges of allegedly creating discord and hatred, with a fine of 1000 Omani Rials (approx. USD$2600).
On 10 October 2014, Al-Darodi was summoned to appear before the Special Division of the Omani Police in Salalah and has since disappeared. It is believed that he was detained incommunicado withno access to his family or lawyer at the Special Division of the Omani Police in Salahah. He has been released on 05 Novemebr 2014. For more information see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/786
The GCHR deplores in the strongest terms the use of the judiciary to issue unfair sentences against human rights defenders that are based on apparently fabricated charges in violation of the right to freedom of expression and opinion. The GCHR therefore calls on the Omani government for an immediate cessation of this series of violations.
The GCHR deplores in the strongest terms the continued targeting of Saed Jadad and calls on the Omani government to immediately cease the series of violations against him without restrictions or conditions.
The GCHR urges authorities in the Oman to:
1. Release Saed Jadad and Saed Al-Darodi immediately and unconditionally;
2. Drop all the fabricated charges against them;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances the ability of human rights defenders and journalists in Oman to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisal, and free of 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, recognises 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 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.”