Covering events from January-December 2001

The Sultanate of Oman
Head of state and government: Sultan Qaboos bin Said
Capital: Muscat
Population: 2.3 million
Official language: Arabic
Death penalty: retentionist

At least 15 men were executed. At least two others were sentenced to death.


The government announced a number of judicial and legislative changes with potentially positive effects on human rights. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a number of recommendations urging legal and institutional changes designed to protect children.

Death penalty

At least 15 men, including four foreign nationals, were executed. All were convicted on charges of murder or drug trafficking after trial procedures which may have fallen short of international standards for fair trial. There were concerns that the defendants may not have been able to exercise their rights to defence and appeal. Most of the executions were carried out in the presence of the relatives of the murder victims.

  • Two men, Hatem 'Ali Nour Baksh and 'Abdul Rahman Murad Mohammed, both Pakistan nationals, were reportedly sentenced to death in April on drug trafficking and firearms charges. No information was available regarding their trial proceedings and they remained at risk of execution at the end of the year.
  • Mohama Abdullah Angeles, a Philippine worker sentenced to death in 1999 for murder, was pardoned by Sultan Qaboos bin Said in December.
Judicial and legal reforms

Judicial and legal reforms with a potentially positive impact on human rights in the country were announced. In the context of implementation of the 1999 Judicial Authority Law, the government announced a number of measures to restructure the justice system. They included the establishment of a Supreme Court, five new appeal courts, up to 40 courts of first instance, and the appointment of up to 100 new judges. In addition, a Royal Decree was issued stipulating the establishment of a Supreme Judicial Council.

Amendments to the penal code and code of penal procedures were announced restricting the permitted length of pre-trial detention to six months, and permitting the imposition of the death penalty after unanimous verdicts only.

The new laws also included a new press and publications law. The draft of this law had been referred to Sultan Qaboos bin Said for final approval in October 2000, after it was approved by the Consultative Council. According to press reports, the draft law contained some provisions with a potentially positive impact on the right to freedom of expression and the protection of journalists.

In June, Oman acceded to International Labour Organisation Convention No. 182 and the government submitted a draft for a new Labour Law for study by a committee of the Consultative Council and subsequent debate and approval by the Council. No date was given as to when the draft would become law. In the meantime, up to 10,000 alleged illegal immigrants were deported. It was not known what procedures were followed in their cases or whether any were subjected to violations of their human rights.


In October, Oman appeared for the first time before a human rights treaty body, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child. The Committee considered the government's initial report on the implementation of the UN Children's Convention and made a number of recommendations. These included a request for the lifting of reservations placed by Oman on several articles of the Convention and reviews of laws and practices with the aim of bringing these into line with the Convention.

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