OMAN: Court postpones verdict of “Azamn” journalists, in a trial held below international standards, according to trial observation report

Press release

The continuing prosecution and trial of three “Azamn” journalists in Oman has been marked by procedural flaws and the abuse of punitive press laws, according to a final Trial Observation Report published by a coalition of human rights groups today.

On 07 November 2016, the Omani Appeal Court in Muscat heard the case against three journalists of “Azamn” newspaper, Ibrahim Al-Maamari, Yousef Al-Haj, and Zaher Al-Abri. The coalition of rights groups which monitored the trial was composed of the Gulf Center for Human Rights (GCHR), the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), Front Line Defenders, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), and both the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders.

The independent human rights lawyer, who attended the Appeal Court trial on 7 November 2016 in Muscat, finds that the hearing fell below international fair trial standards.

The verdict was set for 17 November but is now due on 12 December 2016. The coalition therefore renew its calls for the charges to be dropped and/or for the defendants to be acquitted [1].

The full report finds, inter alia, that:

i. Pre-trial detention of the three defendants in the summer of 2016 was arbitrary and disproportionate, while conditions in solitary confinement constituted inhuman and degrading treatment;
ii. There was a failure by the State to afford the defendants timely access to legal support;
iii. The central charges brought against the defendants act as a broad and disproportionate tool for state action against the media, offend the principle of legality and pose a significant obstacle to successfully mounting a fair defence.
iv. The Appeal Court trial failed to remedy the irregularities in the lower Court hearings.

Read the full report online:

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