Oman: Oman: The use of judiciary to target prominent human rights defender Saed Jadad

02.04.15

Even while imprisoned, prominent human rights defender Saed Jadad continues to be targeted and receive additional prison sentences related to his human rights work in violation of his right to free expression.

On 1 April 2015, the Court of Appeal in Muscat began a review of a previous sentence issued against Jadad, which included three years of imprisonment. The court decided to adjourn the hearing to 15 April 2015. Jadad did not attend this hearing either.

The review related to three sentences handed down to Jadad by the Court of First Instance in Muscat On 8 March 2015, which included three years in prison and a fine of 500 Omani Rials (USD$1300) after he was convicted on charges of "undermining the prestige of the state." He was also sentenced to a year in prison and a fine of 200 Omani Rials (USD $520) on charges of incitement to “illegal gathering ". Finally, he was sentenced to three years and a fine of 1000 Omani Rials (USD$2600) after being convicted of allegedly “using information networks to disseminate news that would prejudice public order." The court decided to merge the three sentences and only implement the toughest punishment which is three years in prison with the payment of all fines.

In the latest case, on 31 March 2015, the Court of First Instance in Salalah sentenced Jadad to one year in prison in addition to a fine of 2600 Omani Rials (USD$6755) for allegedly violating the Cyber Crime Law. He was not present when the verdict was read in court, where the bail request submitted by his lawyer was rejected. The appeal hearing of this case will take place on 13 April 2015 at the Court of Appeal in Salalah.

Reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) confirm that he has been moved to Samail central prison in Muscat and that he had been deprived of family visits. The GCHR believes he is being persecuted because of his activity in the field of human rights and repeated calls for reform in Oman.

For more information about his case and other cases in Oman kindly see the following link: https://www.gc4hr.org/news/index/country/6

The GCHR has serious concerns about the use of the judiciary to create fabricated cases in order to imprison human rights defenders in Oman and combat freedom of expression in the country.

The GCHR deplores in the strongest terms the sentences issued in the cases against 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. Ensure the release of human rights defender Saed Jadad immediately and unconditionally;
2. Drop all the fabricated charges against him; and
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.