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Oman: On the occasion of IFJ’s 31st Congress in Muscat, Omani authorities must respect public freedoms

The International Federation of Journalist (IFJ), based in Belgium, will hold its 31st Congress in Muscat between 31 May and 03 June 2022. The Omani Journalists Association (OJA) will represent Oman in hosting this event.

The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) and the Omani Association for Human Rights (OAHR) take this opportunity to call on both IFJ and OJA, to highlight during the four-day event, the extensive human rights violation that are taking place in the country. We hope they will also urge the government of Oman to respect public freedoms, in particular freedom of expression offline and online, freedom of the press, and freedom of peaceful assembly.

In recent years, GCHR and OAHR have documented many violations to freedom of expression including attacks on the press, journalists, other media professionals and Internet activists. They have been summoned, harassed and imprisoned solely for expressing their views about public affairs on social media networks.

In 2016, the country’s only independent newspaper “Azamn” was shut down and its leading journalists Ibrahim Al-Maamari, Yousef Al-Haj and Zaher Al-Abri were imprisoned solely due to their purely journalism work.

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 prominent broadcaster Kholoud Al-Alawi on Hala FM Radio.

On 15 March 2022, journalist and human rights defender Mukhtar Al-Hinai was summoned by the Public Prosecution Department in Muscat for an investigation over a tweet. He was subjected afterward to a campaign of judicial harassment, in flagrant violation of his freedom of expression and jeopardising press freedom in Oman.

GCHR and OAHR urge authorities in Oman to:
Protect the freedom of the press in the country as well as freedom of expression offline and on the Internet; and
Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders including journalists, writers and online activists in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.