Annual Report On Human Rights Situation in Oman (2022)
The Omani Centre for Human Rights issues its annual report on human rights violations for the year 2022. The report addresses a number of cases such as summonses, arbitrary detention and trials, in addition to murders against women that fall under violence against women.
Unfortunately, the human rights situation in Oman has worsened due to the continuation of the same laws as they are and the introduction of a legal provision under Article 97 of the Omani Penal Code, which criminalizes any criticism against the Sultan, his authority, or his family. In addition to the escalation of summons and detentions of citizens for reasons related to freedom of opinion and expression. OCHR also recorded a number of cases related to: arbitrary arrest/detention, enforced disappearance.
In this report, OCHR addresses many violations, taking into account that many cases are not mentioned in the report for two reasons: the unwillingness of victims to write about their cases for fear of reprisals by the authorities, or because there is no reliable or directly related source of information to the victim.
The Internal Security Agency summoned and detained citizen, Abdul Majeed Al-Rawahi (Abu Al-Yasa), after he posted tweets on his personal account criticizing the family photos of the current Sultan, Haitham bin Tariq. Abu Al-Yassa was later released on 21 February without charge.
Security authorities arrested Engineer, Ahmed Al Katheeri, who works at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Salalah, south of Oman, after a tweet he posted on his own account criticizing a decision by the Administrative Court in Dhofar Governorate on February 28, 2018, to reject a lawsuit filed by a number of citizens against the Minister of State and Dhofar governor. He was released days later.
Approximately 14 workers died at a mining site in Ibri province, after a rockslide at a work site. All of the workers belong to different Asian nationalities, and it is not known whether the Omani authorities have opened an investigation into the incident or not, as no news has been published about the case.
OCHR received news and complaints that 37 national workers from the Middle East Bridge Foundation, did not receive their due salaries three months ago. Owned by an Omani businessman, Middle East Bridge Corporation specializes in oil and gas and has direct contracts with Petroleum Development Oman. OCHR was also informed of other violations by the employer, including his refusal to hand over the workers their monthly payslip, without any persuading reason. In addition, the employer did not match the salaries of workers insured in social insurance with the salaries they receive monthly, and this hindered their access to the due value of the pension.
The Omani Public Prosecution referred a complaint to the Muscat Court of First Instance against journalist and activist Al-Mukhtar Al-Hinai, for posting a tweet on March 9, 2022, about a case of financial and administrative corruption in one of the Omani ministries, a case in which the Muscat Court convicted 8 defendants of embezzlement and forgery. Al-Mukhtar Al-Hinai also mentioned in his tweet that the Ministry of Information prevented Omani newspapers from publishing the story. The case was restricted to hearing on May 8, however, without providing any explanation. The court acquitted on July 17.
The Sohar Court of Appeal (North Oman) issued a verdict in the case known in the media as ” Ghaith’s Spaces”, which witnessed since July 24 – August 2, 2021, the arrest of a number of Omani youth active on social media, namely: Ghaith Al-Shibli, Ali Al-Ghafri, Maryam Al-Nuaimi and Abdullah Hassan, following a discussion on freedom of atheism and religious thought. The court sentenced Ali Al-Ghafri to five years in prison and Maryam al-Nuaimi to three years, while referring the papers of Ghaith al-Shibli and Abdullah Hassan to another court.
The Internal Security Agency summoned and detained environmental activist Ahmed Qattn, after the latter posted a tweet on his personal Twitter account calling for fundamental reforms in the political system. At the time of his detention, Qattn went on hunger strike until the time of his release on 16 August. His case was transferred to appeal on 20 September, in which he delivered a verdict on 6 December (see on scheduled date).
Qattn had previously been arrested and prosecuted in 2021.
Hani Al-Sarhani, an Omani entrepreneur, was arrested after he posted a video in which he expressed concern about the country’s deteriorating economic conditions and called for supporting and revitalizing the business environment. Security authorities released Al-Sarhani several days later without bringing any charges against him.
Hani Al-Sarhani and two other entrepreneurs, Mahmoud Al-Ghabshi and Saud Al-Katheeri, announced a peaceful sit-in in Bawshar, in the capital, Muscat, to demand better incomes, fight corruption, and facilitate tourism and trade in the country, among many demands for reform that they broadcast in a YouTube clip. A few hours later, Internal Security Authorities broke up the peaceful three-person sit-in and arrested the entrepreneurs. (See Oct. 27.)
Royal Decree 68/2022 Amending Some Provisions of the Penal Code was Issued on 20 October 2022 stating: Whoever commits publicly or by posting an affront to the rights and authority of the Sultan, or commits a defect in himself, shall be punished by imprisonment for a period of no less than three years and not exceeding seven years. The same penalty shall apply to anyone who conducts publicly or by posting a defamation against the Sultan’s wife, crown prince and children, or reproaches them in their personality.
The Court of First Instance in Muscat sentenced Hani Al-Sarhani to one year in prison after convicting him of undermining the prestige of the state and calling for a gathering. Sarhan had previously been arrested on 27 August after he and others peacefully held a sit-in. After a period of arbitrary detention, he was released on bail on 20 October, before being sentenced on 27 October. Omani law criminalizes any peaceful gathering or demonstration or even calling for it according to article 123 of the Omani Penal Code, and punishes any criticism of the state, its institutions, or the economic situation therein, based on article 115 of the same code.
The Salalah Court of Appeals sentences environmental activist Ahmed Qattn to acquittal on a criminal charge, with three misdemeanours returned to the first instance.
Lawyer Amal Al-Abria killed by her ex-husband in a Muscat Governorate court (before the court)
The legal community in Oman mourned the murder of a female lawyer in a court in Muscat Governorate by her ex-husband while she was doing her job. This crime re-raises several questions about the status of women in Oman, the weakness of the legal aspect that does not provide the necessary protection for women, and the incitement led by a number of clerics against women’s freedom and rights.
Ibtisam Al-Maqrashi, a university student (University of Technology and Applied Sciences in Ibri), was killed by an Omani citizen believed to be a student at the same university. The killer intercepted the victim’s car in the city of Ibri in the governorate of Dhahira, the northern west of Amman, crashed into it, and then stabbed the victim with a knife. Ibtisam’s murder is the second murder to occur in a matter of days, after the murder of Amal Al-Abri.
Omani citizen Majid Al-Rahili was kidnapped by Internal Security (Intelligence) in front of a gym in Muscat Governorate and forcibly disappeared until December 23, when he contacted with his family reassuring them that he would be released soon, without specifying a date. Al-Rahili’s family had asked more than one security authority until the headquarters of the special department in Qurum in Muscat Governorate confirmed that Majid was in their possession, but they prevented the family from seeing him or setting any date to visit him. Majed has not been released until the end of 2022.
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