Documents – Omani Association for Human Rights https://en.omanhr.org Fri, 06 May 2022 08:23:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.9.3 https://en.omanhr.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/cropped-Oman-Logo-2-300x216-32x32.jpg Documents – Omani Association for Human Rights https://en.omanhr.org 32 32 Oman: Authorities must stop targeting journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai https://en.omanhr.org/oman-authorities-must-stop-targeting-journalist-and-human-rights-defender-mukhtar-al-hinai/ Fri, 06 May 2022 08:22:20 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=587

The Omani authorities continue to target human rights defenders, journalists, bloggers, and Internet activists in a systematic pattern that they have pursued for many years. Journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai is subjected to a campaign of judicial harassment, in flagrant violation of his freedom of expression and jeopardising press freedom in Oman.

On 09 March 2022, Al-Hinai posted on his Twitter account the following statement, “The Muscat Court has issued a ruling convicting 8 defendants of a felony of embezzlement and forgery… that occurred in one of the ministries.”

Subsequently, on 15 March 2022, he was summoned by the Public Prosecution Department in Muscat to investigate this tweet. The investigation lasted two hours, after which he was informed that he had been referred to trial under Article 249 of the Omani Penal Code, which includes a prison sentence of no less than one month and no more than two years, and a fine of no less than one hundred (approx. 247 EUR) and no more than one thousand (approx. 2470 EUR) Omani riyals, for anyone who publishes rulings regarding the lawsuits that the court prevented them from publishing. Also, in another arbitrary measure, he was informed of his travel ban. He had to delete his tweet right after the investigation ended.

The Court scheduled the first session of his trial on 08 May 2022, but he received a second phone call informing him that his trial was postponed until 19 June 2022.

Reliable local sources confirmed that the lawsuit is a public one that was filed by the Public Prosecution, while other sources stated that the Ministry of Information had filed a judicial complaint against him.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) believe that the only reason for postponing his trial is because Oman is hosting the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)’s 31st Congress from 31 May to 03 June 2022 in the capital, Muscat, with the participation of more than 300 journalists representing more than 100 countries.

Al-Hinai is a well-known human rights defender, and one of the prominent activists of the 2011 mass popular protests. He was arrested several times after that, subjected to interrogation and targeting, yet he worked within the shrinking civic space in order to defend the civil and human rights of citizens.

GCHR and OAHR announce their full solidarity with journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai and condemn the use of the judiciary to violate his rights. We call on all international mechanisms, including those of the United Nations, as well as the International Federation of Journalists, to exert their strenuous efforts to protect him and help put an end to the efforts of the authorities in Oman to silence him. We call for the lawsuit filed against him to be dismissed without conditions.

A fair judiciary can only be completely transparent when it comes to corruption in state departments and ministries, and in these cases, which are of public interest, the law should not be used to punish journalists who seek to reveal the truth to citizens.

The authorities in Oman should immediately stop their systematic campaign aimed at stifling the public freedoms of journalists and other citizens and severely restricting freedom of the press, freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, and freedom of peaceful assembly. They must fulfill their obligations to protect civic space and not harass human rights defenders, including writers, journalists, and Internet activists.

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Oman: The arrest of engineer and internet activist Ahmed Muslim Al-Kathiri https://en.omanhr.org/oman-the-arrest-of-engineer-and-internet-activist-ahmed-muslim-al-kathiri/ Fri, 04 Mar 2022 12:07:36 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=581

On 28 February 2022, a tweet posted by engineer and online activist Ahmed Muslim Al-Kathiri stated the following: “After the court ruling today, which stipulated the rejection of the case, it became clear to us that the authority is still in control of the judiciary and not, as it is rumored, that the government has no authority over it. The policy of states is to bring the ruler and the people closer to consolidate national unity, and the injustice that takes place in the corridors of the judiciary does not cement it, but rather alienates it.”


Al-Kathiri, who works as a project engineer at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Dhofar Governorate, uses his Twitter account to express his personal views on public issues that concern citizens, especially the issue of Al-Morouj lands.


On the same day, the Administrative Court of the Dhofar Governorate dismissed the case filed by some citizens against the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, Mohammed bin Sultan Al-Bousaidi regarding the unlawful distribution of the Al-Morouj’s lands to influential people and high-ranking government officials.


Reliable local sources confirmed that on 02 March 2022, the security authorities arrested and detained Al-Kathiri. He has been completely isolated from the outside world and has not been allowed to contact his family or lawyer.
As soon as the news of his arrest spread, a large campaign of solidarity calling for his release was launched on social media. He has been described as a patriotic figure who wants the good and justice of the citizens.

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Oman: “All Questions” program presented by broadcaster Kholoud Al-Alawi has been suspended https://en.omanhr.org/oman-all-questions-program-presented-by-broadcaster-kholoud-al-alawi-has-been-suspended/ Sun, 26 Dec 2021 09:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=562

In an arbitrary measure that greatly endangers freedom of expression, the Ministry of Information decided on 01 December 2021 to prevent the broadcast of the “All Questions” program, presented by the prominent broadcaster, Kholoud Al-Alawi, on Hala FM radio.

The “All Questions” program enjoys a wide following amongst the citizens of Oman due to the important and pertinent topics it raises for the daily lives of Omani citizens.

Local reports confirmed that the Ministry of Information informed the Radio administration of its decision over the phone. As soon as the news of the decision was circulated, the hashtag, #Solidarity _ with _ Kholoud_Al-Alawi, started trending on Omani Twitter.

The decision was issued on the same day that Al-Alawi hosted Shura Council member Dr. Mohammed Al-Zadjali on her program. During an interview with him, he criticized the presidency of the Shura Council and said, “The media outlets handed over their necks to the Ministry of Information.”

Furthermore, the Ministry of Information issued a circular on 23 December 2021, requiring the media to coordinate the hosting of members of the Shura Council with the Ministry. Observers consider this to be yet another restriction on media freedom.

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Torture in the Sultanate of Oman: Lost Liberties and Suppression of Human Rights Activists https://en.omanhr.org/torture-in-the-sultanate-of-oman-lost-liberties-and-suppression-of-human-rights-activists/ Thu, 26 Aug 2021 10:33:44 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=557

The Omani Association for Human Rights has Produced a report on torture in Oman in Cooperation with the Gulf Centre for Human Rights With Support from the European Union in August 2021

Read the full report

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The Pegasus Project: MENA Surveillance Coalition demands an end to the sale of surveillance technology to the region’s autocratic governments https://en.omanhr.org/the-pegasus-project-mena-surveillance-coalition-demands-an-end-to-the-sale-of-surveillance-technology-to-the-regions-autocratic-governments/ Mon, 26 Jul 2021 15:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=539

We, the undersigned human rights organizations, call for an immediate halt to the use, sale and transfer of surveillance technology to autocratic oppressive governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In light of revelations exposing the staggering scale of surveillance targeted at human rights defenders including journalists, bloggers and Internet activists facilitated by NSO Group’s Pegasus spyware, we urge all states to enforce a moratorium until a clear human rights regulatory framework is established.

Since the 2016 investigation by Citizen Lab identifying one of the early uses of Pegasus by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to spy on prominent Emirati human rights defender Ahmed Mansoor, now serving 10 years in prison in inhumane conditions, the surveillance industry has only flourished, undeterred. Amnesty International and Forbidden Stories’ breaking investigation, the Pegasus Project, exposed the leaked data of 50,000 phone numbers identified as potential surveillance targets, including four NSO Group government clients from the MENA region —  Bahrain, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

Journalists and activists are being targeted

Amongst the Pegasus Project’s shocking revelations, the mass scale surveillance operations by the Moroccan authorities with a target list of 10,000 phone numbers including those of world leaders, activists and journalists, stood out. 

The analysis identified at least 35 journalists who were targeted with Pegasus by the Moroccan government, and later prosecuted under questionable circumstances or subjected to state-sanctioned campaigns of intimidation and harassment, including Taoufik Bouachrine and Soulaimane Raissouni, Akhbar El-Youm newspaper editors. Bouachrine was sentenced to 15 years in prison on charges of human trafficking, sexual assault, rape and prostitution. His colleague Raissouni was also arrested on sexual assault charges in May 2020, and was sentenced to five years in prison on July 9, 2021. Both of their prosecutions were marred by violations of due process and fair trial rights.

Moroccan journalist and human rights activist Omar Radi was also sentenced on July 19, 2021 to six years in prison on dubious charges of espionage and rape. In June 2020, Amnesty International revealed that Radi was targeted using NSO spyware just three days after NSO Group released its human rights policy. 

Further frightening evidence unearthed by the Pegasus Project shows that friends and family members of the slain and dismembered Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, were targeted with Pegasus spyware before and after his murder. According to a forensic analysis by Amnesty International’s Security Lab, the iPhone of Khashoggi’s Turkish fiancée, Hatice Cengiz, was targeted and successfully infected four days after Khashoggi’s murder, and multiple times in the subsequent days. Other targets include his son Abdullah Khashoggi, his wife Hanan Elatr, his friend and former director-general of Al Jazeera, Wadah Khanfar, and the British human rights lawyer Rodney Dixon who represented Cengiz in filing legal action against the murder of Khashoggi. 

These revelations demonstrate that no one is safe, with even the names of people who have fled the country for their own safety, surfacing in the leak. Paris-based investigative journalist and co-founder of the Moroccan Association of Investigative Journalists Hicham Mansouri, who after years of harassment, violence and imprisonment sought asylum in France, was identified as a surveillance target. 

Other notable surveillance targets who appear on the leaked Pegasus list include Alaa Al-Siddiq, an Emirati activist and the executive director of ALQST, who was killed in a traffic accident in June 2021, and ALQST founder and Saudi human rights defender Yahia Assiri. Both Al-Siddiq and Assiri relocated to the UK to flee persecution. 

NSO’s justifications are groundless

The scandalous targeting of hundreds of journalists and activists in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Algeria, Bahrain, UAE, Lebanon, Morocco, Turkey and Egypt — many who have long been the subject of surveillance, harassment, arrest, torture and assassination — refute the repeated groundless claims made by the NSO Group that its spyware is exclusively used to deter crime and terrorism. Their proclaimed statements that they are willing to investigate misuse of their technology and take action accordingly appear unfounded against the backdrop of last week’s mammoth exposé. 

These dangerous tools should not be readily available in the MENA region

In the absence of any oversight or regulation of the thriving, opaque surveillance tech industry, autocratic governments in the region have found their go-to tools to further repress human rights defenders and journalists, and suppress freedom of expression and the media with full impunity. 

In authoritarian contexts where there is no transparency nor oversight over the use of this highly invasive technology, no privacy safeguards, no fair trial and procedural safeguards, and no avenues for victim remediation, the sale and use of surveillance technology leads to serious human rights violations, and must be immediately ceased.

It has been two years since the first call for an immediate moratorium on the sale, transfer and use of surveillance tools by the former United Nations Special Rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression, David Kaye, following the atrocious murder of Jamal Khashoggi. It is now high time for States to heed the call and immediately enforce the moratorium until there is a global human rights regulatory framework in place.

We, therefore, urgently call on all States to take the following steps:

  1. Implement an immediate moratorium on the use, acquisition, sale and transfer of surveillance technology. This moratorium should extend until adequate global controls and safeguards against abuse are in place.
  2. Revoke all export licenses of surveillance technology and business ties to non-democratic states in the MENA region that systematically commit human rights violations.
  3. Initiate an independent, transparent and impartial investigation into cases of targeted surveillance, particularly in the cases of extraterritorial targeting of journalists, human rights defenders and political asylum seekers, and ensure that victims of unlawful surveillance have access to remedy and reparation.
  4. Adopt a legal framework that requires transparency about the use and acquisition of the surveillance technologies, and proactively make this information available in public registers, including on products and services purchased as well as business contracts with private surveillance companies, to allow for public scrutiny and accountability.
  5. Engage in and support international regimes and human rights mechanisms that put controls on the use, development and export of surveillance technologies.
  6. Initiate a follow-up criminal investigation into the killing of Jamal Khashoggi and the targeted surveillance of his family members and associates; and renew international efforts, through judicial and diplomatic means, to achieve justice and accountability.
  7. International mechanisms including the UN system and relevant governments must put an end to the targeted surveillance of human rights defenders including journalists, bloggers and Internet activists.

Coalition Members:

  1. Access Now
  2. Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR)
  3. Masaar-Technology and Law Community
  4. Reporters Without Borders (RSF)
  5. INSM Network (Iraq)
  6. SMEX
  7. Red Line for Gulf
  8. Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA)
  9. Article 19

Signed by:

  1. Muwatin Media Network
  2. MENA Rights Group
  3. Skyline International for Human Rights
  4. Pen Iraq
  5. Oman Association for Human Rights (OAHR)
  6. Metro Centre to Defend Journalists
  7. Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights (IOHR)
  8. ACAT Germany (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  9. Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR)
  10. Syrian Center for Legal Studies and Researches
  11. Yemen Organisation for Defending Rights and Democratic Freedoms
  12. Iraqi journalism rights defence association
  13. Yemeni Institute for Strategic Affairs
  14. International Center for Justice and Human Rights (ICJHR)
  15. Salam for Democracy and Human Rights
  16. Bahrain Press Association (BPA)
  17. International Association of People’s Lawyers (IAPL)
  18. El Nadim center for rehabilitation of victims of violence, Egypt
  19. Syrian Center for Democracy and Civil Rights in Syria
  20. No to Violence group
  21. Youth Without Borders – Tunisia (JSF)
  22. Sada Organisation to Support Woman & Child
  23. ACAT Belgique (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  24. ACAT Italia (Action by Christians for the Abolition of Torture)
  25. Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE)
  26. ALQST for Human Rights
  27. Organisation for Rights and Liberties
  28. Baynana
  29. Samir Kassir Foundation
  30. Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor
  31. ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies
  32. No Peace Without Justice
  33. International Campaign for Freedom in the UAE (ICFUAE) 

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Oman: Freedom of assembly and expression violated during recent popular protests https://en.omanhr.org/oman-freedom-of-assembly-and-expression-violated-during-recent-popular-protests/ Wed, 02 Jun 2021 05:00:00 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=504

Popular protests have receded in Oman, after they started in the province of Sohar on 23 May 2021, and spread to the provinces of Salalah, Ibri, Sur, Ibra and Rustaq. The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) have documented violations related to the rights to freedom of assembly and expression.

The protesters, the majority of whom are young, have demanded the government provide job opportunities, improve the living conditions of citizens, carry out reforms and eradicate corruption. A number of Omani women also demanded that they be granted the right to own land. Dozens of protesters were arrested, most of whom were later released after being forced to sign a pledge not to participate in any future demonstrations.

On 26 May 2021, human rights defender Ibrahim Al-Balushi was arrested in front of his home, after returning from work before midnight. He has been held in solitary confinement since his arrest due to his participation in the recent peaceful protests.

Reliable local sources told GCHR and OAHR that Al-Balushi started an open hunger strike after being placed in solitary confinement in a prison belonging to the Special Division of the Omani Police Headquarters in Sohar. The Special Division is the executive arm of the Internal Security Service (ISS). He was later transferred to the Central Prison in Sohar. Reports confirmed that he is still on hunger strike.

Al-Balushi took part in the popular protests of 2011, and he was arrested several times, including being imprisoned for 10 months. He was previously arrested in the United Arab Emirates in May 2014 and then released.

GCHR and OAHR received information confirming that the ISS is putting pressure on him to give a public apology for his request from the protesters who gathered in Sohar on 25 May 2021, chanting the slogan, “The people want to reform the system” which means eliminating corruption, as shown in this video.

On 26 May 2021, protesters in Sohar cut off the main street under the Sohar Bridge by placing a truck transporting vehicles in the middle of it. Police personnel then dispersed them using tear gas canisters, as this video clearly shows. Also, due to their massive gathering, the protesters cut off the traffic over the Sohar Bridge itself.

On 27 May 2021, as part of the popular protests, a group of women staged a sit-in in front of the General Directorate of Housing and Urban Planning in the city of Dhofar. They protested the decisions of the Minister of Housing and Planning that sets unfair conditions on the rights of women to obtain land and they raised several slogans including, “It is my right to have a piece of land in my country”.

Civil society activist Abdulaziz Al-Balushi appeared in a recorded video while delivering a speech to a group of protesters in Sohar on the evening of 26 May 2021, in which he showed signs of torture on his back that he reported date back to the days of his previous arrest and detention after his participation in the protests of 2011. Al-Balushi also asked the protesters to show steadfastness and not to retreat as they are defending their rights. He was arbitrarily arrested the next day, and detained for one day. Many demanded his release through the following hashtag spread on Twitter: #Freedom_To_Abdulaziz_AlBalushi

On 26 May 2021, civil society activist Alwi Al-Mashour published a tweet, in which he responded to what he described as the Oman News Agency’s defamation of the image of the demonstrators, in which he said, “It is clear by God … now the media remember to report the news of the demonstrators after it used to ignore them .. Now distorting their image is used to give the green light to break up the demonstrations and turn simple, oppressed and crushed youth in this life into saboteurs and criminals … I swear by God, they are more keen on the homeland than you …. #No_for the intruders.”

Also, Al-Mashour appeared on the same day in a video spread on social media, in which he defended the protesters and called on the government not to use violence against them, and to start a dialogue with them.

Al-Mashour, who resides in Muscat, was subjected to a major smear campaign, and as a result, a solidarity campaign was launched with him on Twitter with the hashtag:

Alawi_AlMashour_Represents-Me

Reliable press reports confirmed that the Special Division of the Omani Police Command in Muscat summoned him on 27 May 2021, detained him for several hours before releasing him.

On the night of 28 May 2021, the security forces arrested all young protesters in the city of Salalah and then released them after several hours of detention. Also, on the same day, the security forces released all detained protesters in the city of Dhofar.

Reports received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed that the ISS forced the detained protesters to sign pledges that violate their rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful protest in exchange for their release.

Following the popular protests, Sultan Haitham bin Tariq issued directives to implement a plan to create more than 32,000 job opportunities during this year, including 12,000 job opportunities in the civil service and military.

Once again, GCHR and OAHR declare their absolute solidarity with the Omani citizens who exercised their right to demonstrate and peacefully assemble in order to demand improvement in their living conditions. By forcing them to sign undertakings not to protest, the security forces have violated the civil and human rights guaranteed by the Omani constitution for all citizens.

The Omani government must release human rights defender Ibrahim Al-Balushi and all other detainees who are peaceful protesters, and it must also work to immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting public freedoms, including the freedom to demonstrate peacefully and freedom of the press. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet. The security forces must fulfill their duties to protect citizens, not to oppress them, while they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

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Oman: Security forces suppress popular protests demanding job opportunities for unemployed youth https://en.omanhr.org/oman-security-forces-suppress-popular-protests-demanding-job-opportunities-for-unemployed-youth/ Wed, 26 May 2021 10:27:55 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=493

(OAHR) call on the authorities to respect freedom of expression and assembly after protests spread across several areas of the country, and the authorities attempted to restrict the media from reporting about demonstrations.

On 23 May 2021, protests erupted in the city of Sohar, which is 234 km north of the capital, Muscat, by unemployed or laid-off Omani youths, who raised numerous slogans, including:
“Young people are the homeland’s wealth!!! So why are they wasted?? (Omani citizen) demands their most basic rights!!!”

surrounded by large security forces on foot and in cars. Reliable reports received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed the arrests of a number of protesters, who were transported away from the gathering place to an unknown destination.

The Ministry of Labour issued a statement on the same day in which it confirmed that, “A number of citizens gathered in front of the General Directorate of Labour building in Al-Batinah North Governorate, demanding job opportunities and solving the problems of some of those who were laid off.” Al-Batinah North Governorate comprises six provinces, including Sohar.

day, 24 May 2021, in front of the Al-Batinah North governor’s office, where security forces used tear gas heavily to disperse them. The news received by GCHR and OAHR confirmed more arrests of protesters and the confiscation of their mobile phones. There are reports that the security forces surrounded the protesters, arrested them, and transferred them all to an unknown destination.

Later, on the same day, a mass march of enthusiastic citizens began, chanting slogans such as “Come out, come out, you oppressed. Seek your rights no matter what.”
Reliable local sources confirmed to GCHR and OAHR that on the evening of 24 May 2021, all the detained protesters in Sohar were released.

In Dhofar, an appeal was distributed on 23 May 2021 which stated, “To every job seeker and every person concerned with the interest of youth in this country. Tomorrow there are two points of peaceful gathering in solidarity with our brothers in Sohar, in the celebrations square, and the Ministry of Labour.”

The mass demonstrations began the next day, with the participation of hundreds of citizens at these two points, who were met with a massive mobilisation by the security forces. A group of them were arrested and then released later that same day.

Also, there are news reports that confirmed the occurrence of demonstrations and protests in Salalah, who raised the same demands that the protesters demanded in other regions, including providing job opportunities for unemployed youth, returning laid-off workers to their jobs, and improving the living conditions of citizens in general.

The hashtag that became the most popular in Oman and trended on Twitter on 24 May 2021 is #Ibri_Respond. Ibri is one of the cities in Al-Dhahira Governorate, and a call was distributed to, “All unemployed and laid-off youths of Al-Dhahira (Ibri), tomorrow we organise a peaceful gathering at eight in the morning near the Ministry of Labour, in solidarity with our brothers in Sohar and the rest of the states to demand reforms and draw attention Officials in the country to the conditions attained by the citizens.”

Reliable sources in Oman stated that a strongly worded circular was issued by higher authorities to all media outlets, including daily newspapers, not to address the issue of peaceful assembly in Sohar, Dhofar, Salalah and the rest of the Omani regions, otherwise permits will be withdrawn. The authorities were forced to backtrack on this decision later after many international media reported on these events.

The recent events in Gaza and its citizens’ steadfastness in the face of brutal aggression, have motivated the citizens of Oman to carry out their current protests.

The first Omani protests also started in the Governorate of Sohar on 25 February 2011, after a large wave of massive protests swept through the Arab world, especially Egypt and Tunisia. These protests were led by Omani civil society activists, and citizens of all types participated in them, especially the youth, who staged a sit-in in Muscat, Sohar and Salalah, which are the areas where the protests were focused. They called for comprehensive political, economic and social reforms. Security forces used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse the protesters and arrested a large number of activists who faced unfair trials that resulted in unfair prison sentences and fines. They were all released after the former Sultan, Qaboos bin Said, issued his royal pardon for him, shortly before they completed their sentence.

While the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) declare their absolute solidarity with the Omani citizens who exercised their rights to demonstrate and peacefully assemble in order to demand improvement in their living conditions, the two NGOs strongly condemn the security forces’ intimidation, repression and arrest of a large number of peaceful protesters.

The Omani government should immediately end the policy of silencing and restricting public freedoms, including freedom of peaceful protest and freedom of the press. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet. The security forces must fulfill their duties to protect citizens, not to oppress them, while they peacefully demand their civil and human rights.

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Oman: Two environmental activists await trial after a third activist acquitted https://en.omanhr.org/oman-two-environmental-activists-await-trial-after-a-third-activist-acquitted/ Sun, 14 Mar 2021 08:46:22 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=468 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, read

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.

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Oman: Two activists detained by security authorities while a third activist referred to court https://en.omanhr.org/oman-two-activists-detained-by-security-authorities-while-a-third-activist-referred-to-court/ Tue, 02 Mar 2021 11:05:02 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=463 Association for Human Rights (OAHR) confirmed that, on 28 February 2021, the security authorities in Oman’s Dhofar Governorate arrested poet and Internet activist Salem Ali Al-Maashani and Internet activist Amer Muslim Bait Saeed (Amr Al-Hkli). The arrests are a result of the Internal Security Service (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.

Reliable local sources stated that the two activists are being held by the Special Division of the Salalah Police Command, which summoned and arrested them as soon as they presented themselves. The Special Division, which represents the executive arm of the ISS, executes, on its behalf, arrest and detention orders for activists. These same sources confirmed that the Special Division also summoned a number of Twitter activists in the Dhofar Governorate who were forced to sign pledges not to tweet on the issue of transferring authority over the Dhofar Plain.

The poet Al-Maasani’s Twitter page features the following phrase, “A person does not care about politics, except when he discovers that part of his unhappiness is decided by the government.” On 25 February 2021, he published a tweet calling for freedom for environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan, who has been detained since 23 February 2021, and he also emphasised the issue of transferring authority over the Dhofar Plain, noting, “The importance of attracting all components of society and involving them in this issue to draw up a road map in line with the interest of the homeland and the citizen.” In another tweet he posted on 23 February 2021, he called on the authorities to respect freedom of opinion and expression, as stipulated in Articles 18, 29 and 31 of the Basic Law of the State.
Internet activist Bait Saeed manages a well-known YouTube channel under the name “Amr Al-Hkli”, on which he publishes recordings that include his poems and video clips about beaches and various places in the Dhofar Governorate, as part of his efforts to promote tourism and attract tourists to visit these places. On 13 February 2021, he posted the following tweet on his Twitter account, which he uses to refuse to transfer ownership of in the Dhofar plan as well as to promote tourism, “Wonderful paradoxes! Some citizens hold camel festivals that support and encourage them, and at the same time, and on the other side, other citizens are banned from festivals and forced to leave their pastures as palaces and displaced from their homes. Are we all citizens of the same degree in this country?”


In a related case, the Public Prosecution’s office in the city of Salalah issued a letter bearing the number 10/2178/2021, which refers Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan to the Court of First Instance in Salalah, which is now scheduled to hold its first session to consider his case on 03 March 2021. The referral letter alleges that Dr Qatan “Used the Internet to publish what would harm the public order by inflaming public opinion, undermining the integrity of the minister and those working with him, accusing them of corruption and favoritism while infringing on their personalities … through the social networking application Twitter.” The referral letter alleged that he 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 Public Prosecution requested the court to confiscate the device used for the tweets in accordance with the provisions of Article 32/A, with the Twitter account used being permanently closed in accordance with the provisions of Article 32/B of the same law.


Article 19 of Oman’s Cyber Crime Law states: “Shall be punished by imprisonment for a period no less than a month and not exceeding three years and a fine of not less than one thousand Omani Rials and not exceeding three thousand Omani Rials, or one of those two penalties, whoever uses the information network or information technology means in the production, publication, distribution, purchase or Possession of anything that would prejudice religious values ​​or public order.”

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GCHR and OAHR condemn in the strongest terms the arrest campaign led by the ISS against all environmental defenders in the Dhofar Governorate. The ISS should immediately release the three activists, Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan, poet Salem Ali Al-Maashani and Internet activist Amer Muslim Bait Saeed (Amr Al-Hkli), and immediately end the policy of silencing other opinions and systematically targeting human rights defenders, including Internet activists.


The authorities are taking advantage of the current exceptional situation imposed by the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic to pass their plans to transfer authority of the Dhofar Plain at a time when citizens are preoccupied with matters of their health and self-preservation. The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet.

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Oman: Detention of environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan extended for two weeks before trial https://en.omanhr.org/oman-detention-of-environmental-activist-dr-ahmed-issa-qatan-extended-for-two-weeks-before-trial/ Thu, 25 Feb 2021 08:42:09 +0000 https://en.omanhr.org/?p=460 According to reliable local reports received by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR), on 24 February 2021, the security authorities brought environmental activist Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan to appear before the Public Prosecution, where he was investigated and charged with using social media in a way that would prejudice public order. The Public Prosecutor rejected bail, and ordered his detention until the first hearing of his trial, which has been set for 08 March 2021.


He is being held by the police in the Detention Prison in Salalah, which is controlled by the Directorate of Criminal Inquiries and Investigation of the Dhofar Governorate Police Command.
Reports confirmed that Dr. Qatan rejected the charge, which violates his right to freedom of expression, and denounced being interrogated without having access to a lawyer.


The Internal Security Service (ISS) arrested Dr. Qatan on 23 February 2021, after he was summoned to appear before the Special Division of the Salalah Police Command, where he was arrested upon presenting himself. The Special Division represents the executive arm of the ISS, and carries out arrest and detention orders for activists on its behalf.


Dr. Qatan, a resident of Dhofar Governorate and a specialist in desalination of sea water, opposes a decision issued by the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar to prevent camels from grazing in parts of the Dhofar Plain, as part of his efforts to preserve traditional life and not prejudice its current formation or change the lifestyle that has existed for hundreds of years. Thus, he rejects 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.

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Once again, GCHR and OAHR condemn the arrest of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan, and protest against the two-week extension of his detention before his trial, which the two NGOs consider to be a violation of his basic rights to freely express his views and defend the environment in his governorate. The ISS should end the policy of silencing voices and opinions, and targeting human rights defenders, including Internet activists, which it has systematically followed in recent years.


The authorities in Oman must respect public freedoms, including freedom of expression and opinion, on and off the Internet.

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