Posts Tagged ‘Oman’

Alkarama human rights award 2015 for Omani MP Talib Al Ma’amari

December 3, 2015

On 8 December 2015 at 18:00, Alkarama will present its 2015 Alkarama Award for Human Rights Defenders in the Arab World to Talib Al Ma’amari a Member of the Omani Parliament who stands up for human rights.  The event will be held at the Ecumenical Centre in Geneva (Switzerland). “Talib Al Mamari is a prisoner of conscience and a courageous human rights defender. By his unwavering non-violent fight against harmful environmental policies in Oman, he has become a model in the region as a dedicated militant who is genuinely close to the citizens’ concerns. Alkarama is proud to honour him,” says Mourad Dhina, Executive Director at Alkarama. The ceremony will be live-streamed on: http://www.youtube.com/AlkaramaHR/live.

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New and updated information on Reprisals in the Arab World

May 20, 2015

On 14 May 2015, the Geneva-based NGO Alkarama provided the United Nations Secretary General with a report on the state of reprisals in the Arab world especially in Oman, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This topic – as argued in this blog many times [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/reprisals/] – is one of the most urgent facing the human rights movement. If  human rights defenders suffer from harassment and intimidation for their cooperation with the UN, it would completely undermine the work of UN experts, Special Rapporteurs, Treaty bodies and the UPR. The UN Human Rights Council has adopted several resolutions (e.g. Resolution 24/24) calling upon States to enact laws and policies to protect HRDs at the national level, to prohibit all forms of intimidation or reprisal against HRDs, and to appoint a UN focal point to whom people who have suffered from retaliation for their cooperation with the UN could turn to.

In its new report Alkarama raises cases of reprisals in:

Oman, where the retaliation against human rights defenders has become systematic. Said Jadad, a prominent activist and advocate for democracy in his country was arrested in December 2014, three months after meeting with the Special Rapporteur on the rights and freedom of peaceful assembly and association during his visit to the country in September 2014. After 12 days in secret detention, during which he was questioned about his “ties with international NGOs working for the protection of human rights”, Jadad was set free only to be arrested again on 21 January 2015. On 8 March 2015, he was sentenced to three years of imprisonment for “harming the State’s prestige”. In August 2014, Omani journalist and human rights activist Mohammad al Fazari was summoned by the Royal Police, for “reasons that concern him personally”. He was subsequently detained in secret for five days, before the authorities confiscated his identity documents and imposed a travel ban in December.

Syria, where two human rights defenders, Jadia Abdallah Nawfal, Director of the Syrian Centre for Democracy and Civil Rights, and Omar Al Shaar, Editor-in-chief of the Day Press News’ English section, were arrested on 31 October upon their return from Beirut where they attended human rights conferences and workshops. After numerous UN Special Procedures holders intervened with the Syrian authorities on their behalf in November, they were both set free on 18 December 2014. [Also in Syria, Alkarama informed Ban Ki-moon of the 23rd postponement of the hearing of Mazen Darwish, President of the Syrian Centre for Media and Freedom of Expression and his colleagues, Hussayn Gharir and Hani Zitani before the Anti-Terrorism Court, despite the call from both the UNSG and  UN Special Procedures for their release. What is more, on 9 June 2014, a presidential amnesty was issued pardoning all individuals charged with “promoting terrorist acts,” but Mazen Darwish and his colleagues were excluded from the pardon, as highlighted by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein in February. Finally, Alkarama reported the continuous secret detention of Khalil Matouk, a human rights lawyer – who defended, amongst others, Mazen Darwish and his colleagues – and Director of the Syrian Centre for Legal Studies and Research, whose case was raised by the UNSG in 2014. Arrested in October 2012, he has been, since March 2013, detained incommunicado at an Air Force Intelligence Branch, despite a UN call for his release.]

Egypt, where the case of Alkarama’s Country Representative Ahmed Mefreh, which was raised by the UNSG in his 2014 report, saw new developments. In September 2013, an arrest warrant was issued accusing him of “being a member of an armed organisation,” as a reprisal for his work as a human rights defender documenting then the killing of 985 peaceful demonstrators in Rabaa Adawiya and Nahda squares in Cairo. Today, Mefreh is being prosecuted in absentia with 49 other people on trumped-up charges including: “joining an illegal group aiming at impeding the enforcement of the Constitution and the law; disrupting institutions; hampering personal rights guaranteed by the Constitution; damaging national unity and social peace while pursuing terrorist goals to overthrow the authorities; assaulting police forces and public facilities; and disrupting the public order.”

Saudi Arabia, where the authorities continue to crackdown on human rights activists. Alkarama updated Ban Ki-moon on the cases of Fawzan Al Harbi, Abdullah Al Hamid and Mohammad Fahad Al Qahtani, all founding members of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Associations (ACPRA). ACPRA, an NGO founded in 2009 to document cases of human rights violations in Saudi Arabia, suffered from reprisals by the authorities for having provided the UN with information, often via Alkarama. On 19 November 2014, after having been accused of “spreading false information about the Saudi government,” Fawzan Al Harbi was sentenced to 10 years in prison and subjected to a 10-year travel ban. Abdullah Al Hamid and Mohammad Al Qahtani, who were sentenced in March 2013 respectively to 10 and 11 years of imprisonment by the Criminal Court of Riyadh for having provided “false information as evidence to official international apparatuses such as the mechanisms of the Human Rights Council,” continue to be detained despite a call from several UN Special Procedures for their release.  Fadhel Al Manasif, a Saudi human rights defender was sentenced by the Specialized Criminal Court to 15 years plus a travel ban of the same length after his prior sentence, and a fine of US$ 26,666 for charges that included “breaking allegiance with the king” and “being in contact with foreign news agencies in order to exaggerate news and harm the reputation of the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and its people”.

It is important to recall that, because not all victims are able to advocate their own case, or because they fear further reprisals, we should never forget that these cases are only the tip of the iceberg, as Ban Ki-moon highlighted in his last reprisals report,” says Inès Osman, Legal Coordinator at Alkarama. “The international community needs to stand by these women and men and fight against impunity for these unacceptable acts of reprisals. These individuals do not only ‘cooperate with the UN,’ they embody the fight for a world in which all people can demand their rights without fear.” T

For more information or an interview, please contact the media team at media@alkarama.org

FOCUS: Reprisals Continue in the Arab World as Civil Society Space Shrinks – Alkarama Foundation.

Sultan of Oman does the right thing: Human Rights Defenders receive pardon

March 29, 2013

Further to my post of 27 March, it now turns out that on 21 March Sultan Qaboos of Oman pardoned 50 people, including several human rights defenders, who had been targeted in a recent crackdown. The 50 had been arrested on charges including insulting the ruler, various cyber-crimes, and taking part in unauthorised protests.

via Oman: Activists and Human Rights Defenders Receive Pardon | Front Line.

Oman: Update on trial against Human Rights Defenders

March 27, 2013

On 22 February I reported on a large trial in Oman against several human rights defenders, Front Line now report in an update that some of them were released on bail but others continue in detention.

Said Al-Hashimi is amongst those released

(Said Al-Hashimi, a HRD amongst those released on bail)

On 17 March 2013, several human rights defenders were granted bail by the Appeals Court during a retrial ordered by the Supreme Court. Amongst the human rights defenders released are writer Said Al Hashimi, lawyer Basma Al KiyumiBasima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari. The next hearing was adjourned until 24 March 2013. Basma Al Kiyumi, Basima Al Rajihi, Khalid Al Nawfali and Mohammed Al Fazari had been convicted for allegedly publishing insulting and defamatory material on a social media site, while Said Al Hashimi was convicted for alleged participation in an illegal gathering.

While Front Line Defenders welcomes the release of the human rights defenders, it reiterates that the ongoing campaign of judicial harassment and intimidation should be ceased and that all their convictions should be quashed.

Oman: Update – Release of several human rights defenders on bail | Front Line.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

20 NGOs call on Oman to immediately release all detained Human Rights Defenders

February 22, 2013

An impressive list of 20 human rights organizations have signed a statement regarding Omani human rights defenders who are currently in detention, especially those undertaking hunger strikes. 24 defenders and activists including Basma Al-Kiyumi, Bassima Al-Rajhi, Saeed Al-Hashemi, Hamad Al-Kharusi, and Bassam Abu Qasida undertook a hunger strike on 9 February 2013 in Samail Central Prison, protesting the delayed ruling on the appeals that they brought to the Supreme Court against the judgments that were passed against them. Confirmed reports reveal that the conditions of some of the hunger strikers have deteriorated seriously to the point that some are currently at risk of death. Saeed

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Al-Hashemi was transferred to the Royal Hospital in Muscat, where a neurologist examined him and confirmed that he is in urgent need of physiotherapy or surgery as a result of an injury on his right side sustained when he was beaten by unknown assailants during peaceful protests in Oman in 2011. The same reports reveal that Hamad Al-Kharusi and Bassam Abu Qasida were transferred to the jail’s clinic due to exhaustion caused by their hunger strike.These human rights defenders were incarcerated following the decisions of the Appeals Court on 5, 12, and 19 December 2012 which upheld sentences of between 6 months and 1 year in prison issued against them by the Muscat Court of First Instance in July and August 2012.

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ICSRF announces the creation of new “Freedom – Network of Human Rights Defenders”

February 5, 2013

The goal of the International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) is “the provision of legal assistance to human rights activists in all countries of the world and its commitment to establish a new generation of cadres working in the field of defense of human rights“, although strangely its website http://www.icsrf.org/ is at the moment only in Arabic and the scope of its activities seems to be restricted to the Arab-speaking world.
The creation of the new network was announced at the conclusion of a regional training course entitled “supporting skills of the defenders of human rights in the Arab countries”, held from 24 to 25 January 2013 in Kuwait with the participation of 32 participants from Kuwait, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Oman including human rights organizations, human rights defenders and activists monitoring and documenting human rights violations.
The ‘Freedom – Network of Human Rights Defenders’ is established under the management of the International Centre for supporting Rights and Freedoms (ICSRF) and the members of the network will be selected from the participants who attended one of the training courses of the ICSRF or from those who work closely with the ICSRF. They will be trained on how to use international law and communication skills with media – both at the theoretical and practical level – in addition to the role of each member in monitoring and documenting violations. The ICSRF aims to create “a new generation of human rights defenders who are able to practice human rights work in a professional manner in line with the international law and the latest international developments as well as to establish a network of human rights defenders.”

Although everything points more to a regional than an international network, one can only wish them success as the Middle East is a region where Human Rights Defenders require support and freedom.

Oman: arbitrary arrest of Said Jaddad

January 16, 2013

One does near much about Oman and the impression could be that it is doing relatively well (the position of women is acknowledged to be good; there is a governmental Human Rights Commission and limited democracy) but after reports in 2012 by AI, HRW and Freedom House amongst others, Frontline now, 14 January 2013, reports the arbitrary arrest of human rights defender and blogger Said Jaddad by the Special Division of Muscat Police Station, where he is currently being detained. Said Jaddad’s work includes the documenting of human rights violations as well as writing critical blog posts about human rights violations in Oman.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

On 14 January, Said Jaddad received a call from the Special Division of Muscat Police Station, requesting that he present himself to the Station. No legal basis was provided for this request. Upon his arrival, the HRD was detained. He has been denied visitation rights and access to a lawyer, while no formal charges have yet been presented. Furthermore, Said Jaddad, who reportedly suffers from heart problems, has not been provided with medical attention. He has previously been subjected to interrogation by police, on each occasion he was requested to sign an undertaking to cease working in the field of human rights, which he rejected. In February 2011, the human rights defender was threatened if he did not cease his contact with international non-governmental organisations. Said Jaddad has also been officially banned from publishing in the Omani media, including in newspapers, such as Al Zaman and Ru’aya.

Front Line Defenders expresses serious concern at the arbitrary detention of Said Jaddad, and at his physical and psychological integrity, in particular given his reported medical condition. Front Line Defenders believes Said Jaddad’s detention to be solely motivated by his human rights work and views this act as part of an ongoing crackdown on human rights defenders in Oman, including continued acts of judicial harassment. For further information on this situation, please see Front Line Defenders’ appeal dated 15 June 2012 http://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/18650 .