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Oman - Update: Prison sentences handed down to human rights defenders in ongoing crackdown on civil society
On 8 August 2012, the Muscat Court of First Instance handed down one-year prison sentences and fines of 200 Rials (approximately EUR 421) to a group of human rights defenders for alleged “illegal gathering” and “road obstruction”.
Mr Osama Al Tuwaiya, the nephew of prominent human rights defender Salem Al Tuwaiya, received the same sentence for alleged defamation and breaking of the cyber crime law. The court set a bail pending appeal of 1,000 Rials (approximately EUR 2,114) per person, and the appeal will take place on 17 October 2012.
The human rights defenders who were sentenced include: Mr Sa'id Al Hashimi, Ms Basma Al Khayoumi, Ms Basma Al Rajhi and Mr Nassir Saleh, all of whom were released on bail on 11 August, and Mr Mukhtar Al Hana'i, who remains in detention. Osama Al Tuwaiya was also released on bail on 11 August. It was reported that the case against him was based upon a forced confession.
Human rights defenders Mr Hamoud Al Rashidi and Mr Hamad Al Kharousi, also detained after protesting the detention of human rights defenders in June 2012, have been sentenced to prison terms of six months and one year respectively, and both were released on bail on 9 July 2012. Mr Nabhan Al Hinshi, Mr Hasan Al Ruqayshi and Mr Ismail Al Muqbali, detained during the same wave of arrests, remain in detention. Mr Fahd Al Kharousi was released without charge on 16 June.
The trial and sentencing come after a wave of arrests of people participating in peaceful protests calling for the release of detained human rights defenders. For further information, please see the Front Line Defenders urgent appeal, dated 16 June 2012: Wave of arbitrary arrests and detention of human rights defenders
Front Line Defenders condemns the sentencing of the aforementioned human rights defenders, and believes that it is directly related to their legitimate activities in the defence of human rights. Front Line Defenders calls on the Omani authorities to immediately quash the convictions of the aforementioned human rights defenders, to drop all charges against them and to effect the immediate and unconditional release of those human rights defenders who are still being detained.