Oman: Said Jadad condemned to 3 years imprisonment despite UN experts public call for his release


On 8 March 2015, Omani human rights defender, Said Jadad was condemned to three years imprisonment by Muscat's Court of First Instance. Jadad is also still waiting for another trial before the Court of Salalah, which could subject him to further sanctions. While the criminal procedures against him in Muscat are based on the overly broad incrimination of "harming the State's prestige," the charges brought against him in Salalah are targeting his peaceful criticism of the State's repressive policies on social media.

Alkarama has documented the many reprisals that the human rights defender has been subjected to especially since his meeting with Mr. Maina Kiai, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association (FPAA) during his official visit in the Sultanate early September 2014. Indeed, after his meeting with the Special Rapporteur, the authorities issued a travel ban against him, preventing him from attending a workshop for human rights defenders in Istanbul. Alkarama rightly feared at the time that this was the first step towards more repressive measures.

On 10 December 2014, Jadad was arrested by a group of men – some wearing police uniforms and others in civilian clothes – without giving any justification for the arrest or showing an arrest warrant. Alkarama had then solicited the urgent intervention of the WGEID on his behalf, and he had been released after an incommunicado detention of more than a week. But on 21 January 2015, he was brutally re-arrested again by a large riot police group who raided Jadad's house in Salalah. Despite Alkarama's urgent appeal to several human rights procedures on 22 January 2015, as well as a public call for his release from several Special Rapporteurs, he had not yet been released.

Alkarama is still following up on his case with various UN Special Procedures, and notably the Special Rapporteur on the rights to FPAA. Jadad is being punished not only for his peaceful criticism of the authorities' repressive policies but also for informing the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council about the retaliation he has been subjected to and for writing a public letter to United States' President Barack Obama about the current repression in his country. Since the deterioration of the Sultan's health, Oman is being ruled by individuals that are acting outside the realm of the law and without any democratic control. It is worth noting that after his visit, Mr. Maina Kiai declared that from his meetings with civil society, victims and activists, he "got the distinct impression of a pervasive culture of silence and fear affecting anyone who wants to speak and work for reforms in Oman. They are afraid to speak their minds, afraid to speak on the telephone, afraid to meet."

The situation is all the more concerning in that Said Jadad's health is worsening as in addition to suffering from a heart condition, he has been on hunger strike since his arrest on 21 January to protest his arbitrary detention. "Said Jadad is a victim of this culture of imposed silence and harsh retaliation by the authorities to anyone who speaks against arbitrariness and injustice in Oman," explained Radidja Nemar, Regional Legal Officer for the Gulf at Alkarama. "His case shows that the Omani authorities are blatantly violating the fundamental rights of their citizens even when recognised institutions like independent experts from the UN are clearly and publicly condemning these practices," she added. "We are extremely worried that, despite several urgent appeals and a public call for his release, Said Jadad is still detained without the possibility to see his loved ones or even his lawyer to prepare his defense."

This repression and harassment of human rights defenders is happening while as Maina Kiai rightly underlined "all the people [...] who have been subjected to this harassment stress that what they want is peaceful reform, not revolution." Alkarama fears that the authorities' unwillingness to cooperate with the UN human rights mechanisms is clearly showing that the already appalling situation in Oman will only get worse in the future if no clear signal is given by the international community that this behavior is not acceptable. For this reason, Alkarama will continue to actively defend all victims of this persecution in Oman in front of the UN instruments for the protection of human rights and ensure that the international community is made well aware of this phenomenon during Oman's upcoming Universal Periodic Review (UPR) that will take place next November in Geneva.

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