[JURIST] The Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR) [advocacy website] urged [press release] the government of Oman on Tuesday to stop arresting protesters and other activists who are calling for political reform. According to the GCHR, many of the Omani citizens who have been arrested have advocated for political reforms, promoted human rights and called for the release of human rights defenders whom Omani authorities have detained. After providing a long list of human rights defenders who have been detained, the GCHR called on Oman’s government to do the following:
- Immediately and unconditionally release all the aforementioned human rights defenders as GCHR believes that they have been detained solely as a result of their legitimate human rights work;
- Drop all charges against all the aforementioned human rights defenders;
- Take all necessary measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity and security of all the aforementioned human rights defenders, while they remain in detention;
- Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Oman are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions including judicial harassment.
In the press release, the GCHR also asserted that international law recognizes the legitimacy of the activities of human rights defenders.
Oman has had a mixed record on human rights in recent years. In June 2011 an Omani court sentenced 13 protesters to prison [JURIST report] for shutting down a government organization, blocking roads and assaulting government employees. UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] applauded [JURIST report] the establishment of national human rights institutions [official website] in Oman in 2010, noting their “growing effectiveness” in promoting human rights. The 2010 Failed States Index [index; FP special report] released in 2010 declared Oman one of the most stable countries in the world [JURIST report]. Oman was also praised by the US [JURIST report] in 2009 for enacting legislation to improve labor conditions. Despite Oman’s reputation for being a peaceful state, protesters were sentenced to 7-20 years in prison in 2005 [JURIST report].