Oman: Death in custody of Mr. Hassan Al-Basham

15/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

OMN 001 / 0518 / OBS 062
Death while in custody
Oman
May 15, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in Oman.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the death while in custody of Mr. Hassan Al-Basham, a prominent online activist and human rights defender in Oman, who regularly defended prisoners of conscience in his numerous writings online.

According to the information received, on April 28, 2018, Mr. Hassan Al-Basham passed away after a sudden deterioration of his health due to the sharp drop in his blood sugar level, while serving a three-year sentence in Samail Central Prison, on charges of “using the internet in what might be prejudicial to religious values” and of “insulting the Sultan” (see background information).

Before he died, Mr. Al-Basham would have been left for an undisclosed period of time lying on the ground without receiving any medical attention.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms Mr. Hassan Al-Basham’s death in custody and urges the Omani authorities to immediately order an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation for those responsible to be held accountable.

Background information:

Mr. Hassan Al-Basham was first arrested by the Internal Security Service (ISS) on September 17, 2015 and appeared before the Special Division of the Omani Police in Sohar. He was released on September 23, 2015, and then arrested again two days later, on September 25, 2015.

On October 18, 2015, Mr. Al-Basham was reportedly transferred to the Public Prosecution’s Office in Sohar, which directed several charges against him. The first hearing in the trial was held on October 30, 2015.

On February 8, 2016, the Court of First Instance in Sohar sentenced Mr. Al-Basham to three years in prison on charges of “using the internet in what might be prejudicial to religious values.” He was also convicted of “insulting the Sultan” and fined 500 Omani Rials (US$ 1,300).

On June 13, 2016, the Court of Appeal in Sohar upheld the three-year prison sentence against Mr. Al-Basham. The charge for “insulting the Sultan”, and its subsequent fine, was overturned.
On January 17, 2017, the High Court of Oman revoked the three-year prison sentence against Al-Basham after examining his case. The ruling was based on his deteriorating health, taking into account that the request for a medical examination of the defendant was ignored during the trial, and was referred back to the Court of Appeal.

However, on November 19, 2017, the Court of Appeal in Sohar again upheld the initial verdict of three-year imprisonment, to which the Court of First Instance in Muscat had sentenced him. The Court of Appeal reportedly did not allow the defence team to present its evidence and medical reports.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in Oman, urging them to:

i. Order an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into Mr. Hassan Al-Basham’s death in custody, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

ii. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of all human rights defenders in Oman;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against all human rights defenders in Oman, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without hindrance or fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, which includes the obligation to provide treatment during detention;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, in particular with Articles 6, 12.1 and 12.2;

vi. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by Oman.

Addresses:

· Mr. Abdulmalik bin Abdullah Al Khalili, Minister of Justice of Oman, Email: info@moj.gov.om
· Mr. Hamoud bin Faisal bin Saeed Al Busaidi, Minister of Interior of Oman, Email: off@moi.gov.om
· Hon. Sheikh Abdullah bin Shuwain Al-Hosni, Chairman of Oman Human Rights Commission, Sultanate of Oman. Fax: 24218906
· H.E. Mr. Abdulla Nasser Al Rahbi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 758 96 66, Email: missionoman@bluewin.ch

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Oman located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, May 15, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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