Our contribution to the UN’s Periodic Review of Oman
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a process for periodically reviewing the human rights records of all the member states of the United Nations, and is currently the only mechanism of its kind. It allows the United Nations to monitor human rights, and lets member states report the actions they have taken to improve the human rights situation in their countries.
The UPR process was established with the creation of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2006. Its goal is to improve the human rights situation in every country and to prompt and expand the promotion and protection of human rights, by continuously assessing each state’s record and addressing violations.
The reviews are conducted by the UPR Working Group, which consists of the 47 members of the Human Rights Council; however any UN member state can take part in the discussions and dialogue with any state under review.
The reviews are based on two types of document: 1) information provided by the state itself, usually called the “national report”; and 2) information provided by independent experts and groups known as the HRC’s “Special Procedures”, human rights treaty bodies, and other UN entities. However, a distinguishing feature of the UPR is that independent stakeholders including non-governmental organizations are also allowed to participate by submitting information about the state of human rights in countries being reviewed.
In 2020/2021 the third periodic review of human rights conditions in Oman took place, the first and second having been carried out in 2011 and 2015. The Omani Centre for Human Rights (OCHR) took part by submitting a joint report in partnership with MENA Rights Group, as well as a separate report in its own right, in July 2020. The two reports gave a detailed account of the human rights situation in Oman and addressed the worst abuses committed by the government, in addition to the laws presenting challenges/obstacles to improvement.
The OCHR also attended the preparatory UPR Working Group session on Oman in December 2020 – the first time an independent Omani group has taken part in its own right. The Centre subsequently submitted a complaint to the HRC’s 48th Regular Session, requesting that the official Oman Human Rights Commission not be regarded as an independent organisation but as a governmental body.
The OCHR’s main recommendations to the UPR were as follows:
- Protect the rights of all individuals to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, association and religion;
- Ensure that activists, journalists and opposition groups can operate safely without censorship, harassment or arbitrary detention;
- Abolish the use of the death penalty as a sentence for all crimes;
- Strengthen Oman’s commitment to gender equality, including by
- withdrawing its reservations to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW);
- removing requirements in the Personal Status Law relating to a woman’s duties in a marriage;
- preventing the ability of judges to permit the marriage of underage girls;
- equalising the ability of both men and women to obtain divorces;
- preventing domestic violence, particularly against women and children; and
- explicitly recognising marital rape as a crime; and
- Decriminalise same-sex relations and sexual activity.
The Centre hopes that its first contribution, and indeed subsequent contributions, to the UPR will help to improve and strengthen human rights in Oman.
What do you think? How can the human rights situation in Oman be improved?