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Written by HRDs and Journalists
Update: Oman- Four human rights defenders handed down prison sentences following peaceful protest
Beirut, 10 July 2012-- Further to a previous appeal issued on 29 June 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/185), the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) has received further information regarding the case against the four human rights defenders Hamoud Saud Hamdan Al-Rashidy, Abdullah Hamad Mubarak Al-Khorousy, Ali Hilal Al-Mikbaly and Mahmoud Hamad Thani Al-Rawahy accused of insulting the Sultan.
On 9 July 2012 the four were convicted and were granted bail of 100 Omani Rials (approximately $260) pending the outcome of the appeal. Hamoud Saud Hamdan Al-Rashidy was sentenced to six months in prison for defamation for reportedly holding up a sign at a peaceful protest with "certain sentences directed at Sultan Qaboos” on 9 June 2012. Abdullah Hamad Mubarak Al-Khorousy, Ali Hilal Al-Mikbaly and Mahmoud Hamad Thani Al-Rawahy were sentenced to a year in prison on the grounds of allegedly violating information technology law for postings they had put up social media networks.
Their arrests formed part of a wave of arrest in recent weeks following pro-reform protests
which erupted following strikes at petroleum plants over pay and pension issues. For further information see GCHR appeals dated 5 June 2012 See GCHR appeal dated 5 June 2012 http://www.gc4hr.org/news/view/157), 12 June 2012 (http://gc4hr.org/news/view/170).
The GCHR expresses its concern at the restrictions placed on human rights and in particular freedom of expression and assembly in Oman, particularly in light of the wave of recent arrests and the Omani Public Prosecutor’s statement last month in which he warned that he would act against anyone making defamatory statements on social media.
The GCHR reiterates its concerns that the arrests, detention and convictions of the above-named human rights defenders are a directly related to their legitimate and peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of opinion and expression.
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) urges the authorities in Oman to:
- Immediately and unconditionally drop all the charges against Hamoud Saud Hamdan Al-Rashidy, Abdullah Hamad Mubarak Al-Khorousy, Ali Hilal Al-Mikbaly and Mahmoud Hamad Thani Al-Rawahy and all those other detained in Oman as a result of their human rights activities;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
GCHR respectfully reminds you that the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, adopted by consensus by the UN General Assembly on 9 December 1998, recognises the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders, their right to freedom of association and to carry out their activities without fear of reprisals. We would particularly draw your attention to Article 6 (c): “Everyone has the right, individually and in association with others: (c) To study, discuss, form and hold opinions on the observance, both in law and in practice, of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and, through these and other appropriate means, to draw public attention to those matters“ ” and to Article 12 (2): “The State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration.”
The Gulf Centre for Human Rights is an independent centre and has been registered in Ireland. The Centre works to strengthen support for human rights defenders and independent journalists in Bahrain, Iraq, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.