Sultanate of Oman: The arrest of an activist for expressing his opinion reinforces the authorities' policy against freedom of opinion and expression
Stockholm- Skyline International Foundation for Human Rights states that the continued arrests of social media activists by the security services in the Sultanate of Oman is a serious violation that must end immediately. It stresses that these practices violate the fundamental principles of freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by both international law and the Sultanate's constitution.
In a statement released today (Friday), Skyline expresses concern over the news that Omani security authorities have arrested Omani engineer and activist "Ahmed al- Kathiri" based on a tweet he posted on his Twitter account.
"Skyline" points out that local news reported that "al-Kathiri" was arbitrarily detained by security forces on 02 March 2022 without any justification or summons from the relevant authorities, stressing that he is still in prison. He is also not allowed to communicate with his family or his lawyer.
Skyline suspects that al-Kathiri's arrest came against the backdrop of a post on his Twitter account in which he criticized the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar, "Mohammed bin Sultan Al Busaidi," after the latter dismissed a lawsuit filed by numerous activists and citizens against the minister over the "Almurooj" land issue. The minister was suspected of corruption in the distribution of land to high-ranking people in the sultanate.
Immediately after the decision of the administrative judiciary in Dhofar governorate to dismiss the case against the minister on the same day, al-Kathiri said in his tweet, "After today's court decision dismissing the case, it has become clear to us that the authority still has control over the judiciary and not as known that it has no authority over it. The policy of the states is to bring together rulers and ruled to consolidate national unity, and the injustice that happens in the corridors of justice does not consolidate it, but alienates it."
Accordingly, Skyline points out that "al-Kathiri" is one of the most prominent Omani social media activists who has consistently expressed his views on public and social issues through his accounts. Moreover, social media in Oman launched a major solidarity campaign for him immediately after his arrest. Following his arrest, dozens of individuals and social media activists called on the Omani authorities to release him immediately.
Skyline reiterates its opposition to the ongoing arrests of social media activists and political figures in the Sultanate of Oman, emphasising that there has been an alarming escalation in arrest campaigns, culminating in August 2021.
Skyline points out that the arrest of activists and intellectuals by Omani authorities is a serious violation of the rights guaranteed by the Omani Constitution and regional and international laws, as Article 29 of the Omani Basic Law and Article 32 of the Arab Charter on Human Rights protect freedom of expression. Also, Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers."
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the Omani authorities to stop the practices of the security services, end all forms of persecution of activists and intellectuals, and work for the immediate and unconditional release of engineer "Ahmed al- Kathiri" and all political prisoners. It also stresses the urgent need to launch an investigation to clarify the circumstances of the increasing arrests. It further emphasizes that the executive authorities should respect the rights stipulated in the Omani Constitution and international law.