UPDATE: Latest human rights news on Oman from the Omani Centre for Human Rights
Awadh al-Sawafi goes on trial for tweets We have just heard (9 June) that former prisoner of conscience Awadh al-Sawafi is being tried under Oman’s Cybercrime Law. On 3 June 2020 the Public Prosecutor’s Office summoned him for questioning over comments he had posted on Twitter. Awadh was one of those detained in 2012 in the so-called “lèse-majesté” case, in which he was sentenced to a year in prison. It is not known whether he has been allowed access to legal counsel, but on 9 June the first session of his trial was held, in which he was charged with “using information technology to publish material prejudicial to public order”. Awadh has been released on bail later on the same day. Awadh’s arrest and trial are totally at odds with the new era promised by Sultan Haitham bin Tariq, in which he pledged there would be freedom of expression.
Omani youth Abdullah al-Shamsi held in UAE jail On 18 August 2018, in Abu Dhabi, the Emirati security authorities arrested (or kidnapped) Abdullah Awadh al-Shamsi, a member of the Omani community resident in the UAE. He remained forcibly disappeared without his family being allowed to visit him or contact him by phone until February 2020, when he was transferred to Al-Wathba Prison. On 6 May 2020 the UAE’s Federal Supreme Court issued a decree affirming the Appeal Court ruling that upheld the sentence against him of life imprisonment, on a charge of sharing intelligence with Qatar. Abdullah al-Shamsi, born on 27 September 1998, was 19 years old at the time of his arrest. According to a Twitter account belonging to his mother, he suffers from psychotic depression. Abdullah’s story dates back to when his name appeared in a news story published in the Emirati newspaper Al Bayan. It quoted a fake document that claimed the Omani authorities had arrested a Qatari citizen called Mubarak al-Khayarin on drugs-related charges, together with Abdullah al-Shamsi and his sister, the wife of al-Khayarin. The document was later disavowed by the Omani Public Prosecutor and its contents were dismissed as false. Abdullah’s family have not been allowed to contact him or visit him since their last visit three months ago and their last phone call nine months ago. According to the OCHR’s sources, Abdullah has tested positive for coronavirus and been placed in isolation. The Centre believes the charge against Abdullah, that of “seeking to share intelligence with Qatar”, is a groundless allegation, for which the UAE authorities have produced no evidence, and that Abdullah is yet another victim of the ongoing Gulf dispute between Qatar on the one hand and Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain on the other. The Omani Centre for Human Rights urgently calls for Abdullah al-Shamsi to be released and for all charges against him to be quashed.
Bahwan Group employees hold protest rally in Sohar On 2 June 2020 a number of employees of the Bahwan Group of companies began staging protest meetings outside the company’s headquarters and Workforce Directorate in Sohar, after the company cut their salaries by up to 50%. Some of the protesters had also suffered arbitrary dismissal.