Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Oman
|Publication Date||13 May 2011|
|Cite as||Amnesty International, Amnesty International Annual Report 2011 - Oman, 13 May 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4dce154b69.html [accessed 20 May 2013]|
Head of state and government: Sultan Qaboos bin Said
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 2.9 million
Life expectancy: 76.1 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 14/13 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 86.7 per cent
Several bloggers who criticized the government were assaulted or detained. The State Security Court was abolished and a new law against financing terrorism took effect. No death sentences or executions were reported.
In January, the Sultan appointed the 14 members of the National Human Rights Committee, created by decree in 2008. The Committee is affiliated to the Majlis al-Dawla, the upper legislative house, but is mandated to function independently.
In December, Oman abstained in a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions.
Freedom of expression
The government maintained strict curbs on freedom of expression. Several bloggers appeared to have been targeted after criticizing the government. However, in January legal proceedings against A'sim al-Sheedi, a journalist accused of defamation after he published an article in December 2009 alleging police corruption, were indefinitely suspended.
Abdul Khaleq al-M'amari, a lawyer and blogger, was found unconscious in his home in Muscat in September. He was reported to have been beaten and to have sustained injuries that left him unable to speak for several days. He was attacked the day after he criticized government spending plans for Oman's national day. No official investigation was known to have been carried out.
'Abdullah al-'Aisari, a blogger, was arrested on around 17 November and, according to reports, detained incommunicado. He had criticized on his blog the government's decision to change the date of Eid al-Adha, which falls during the Muslim holy pilgrimage to Mecca, to bring it into line with the date set by the Saudi Arabian authorities. He was released without charge on 24 November.
Counter-terror and security
The Law on Combating Money Laundering and Financing of Terrorism was enacted in June. It defines the offence of financing terrorism in very broad terms as the financing of "terrorism, terrorist crimes or terrorist organizations" as well as "the commission of any action regarded as a crime within any of the relevant treaties and conventions" to which Oman is party. However, it does not list these treaties and conventions. The law also requires lawyers to disclose to the authorities information about their clients if they suspect their clients have committed offences under this law, so breaching the principle of lawyer-client confidentiality.
Discrimination – Aal Tawayya and Aal Khalifaya tribes
At least five people belonging to Aal Tawayya and Aal Khalifaya tribes continued to be denied equitable access to their economic and social rights as a consequence of a 2006 Interior Ministry decision to rename their tribes "Awlad Tawayya" and "Awlad Khalifayn", affiliating them to the al-Harithi tribe. This reduced their status to that of "akhdam", effectively servants of the al-Harithi tribe. The government said it had addressed the tribes' grievance. However, some members of the tribes were reported to still face difficulties in renewing their identity cards, which are needed to register businesses, obtain travel documents, and arrange matters such as divorce and inheritance.