Sultanate of Oman: Skyline criticizes journalist being taken to court over tweet posted on his account, stressing that decision is an attack on freedom of opinion and expression
Stockholm- Skyline International for Human Rights strongly condemns the arrest of journalist and human rights defender "Mukhtar Al Hinai" by the Omani authorities without providing any legal grounds, stressing that such practices constitute an unacceptable attack on the freedom of opinion and expression guaranteed by the Omani Constitution and international law.
In a statement released today, Tuesday, Skyline explained that Omani journalist "Al Hinai" was summoned on March 15, 2021, by the Muscat Prosecutor's Office to be questioned about a tweet the journalist posted on his Twitter account on March 9, according to human rights activists and media. In the tweet , Al Hinai commented on one of the court verdicts in the case of embezzlement and corruption in administration and finance, saying: "The court in Muscat issued a verdict convicting eight defendants in a crime of embezzlement and forgery committed in one of the ministries."
"Skyline" pointsout that the information issued by several human rights organisations confirmed that the investigation with the journalist "Al Hinai" lasted about two hours, after which he was informed that he was tried on the basis of Article 249 of the Omani Penal Code. The article stipulates that "is punishable by imprisonment for not less than one month and not more than two years and a fine of not less than 100 hundred and not more than 1.000 thousand Omani riyals for anyone who publishes news by any means without the permission of the public prosecutor's office or the competent court: A- news about an ongoing investigation or the publication of a document about this investigation,...".
Skyline stresses that the arbitrary and unjustified ban on entry by the Omani authorities and the forcing of the deletion of the tweet he had shared through his account is a clear and incomprehensible attack on freedom of opinion and expression.
For its part, Skyline iindicates that the judicial authorities had postponed the trial of Al-Hinai, whose first session was scheduled for 08 May 2022. However, he received a phone call informing him of the postponement of his trial to June 19, 2022, without explaining the legal reasons behind it.
"Skyline" states that "Al Hinai" is known for his positions in defense of human rights and is one of the most prominent activists of the 2011 popular protests. He was also arrested, investigated and targeted several times. Despite this, he continued his civil activism and peacefully demanded the rights of Omani citizens.
Skyline concludes its statement by calling on the Omani authorities to halt the trial of journalist and activist "Al Hinai" and to work to ensure that media professionals and human rights defenders can carry out their work without restriction or prosecution. Itstresses the importance of individuals and institutions having adequate space to exercise their fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. Both Omani and international law.