“Illegal Gathering” Sentences in Oman Signal Escalation of Repression
The one-year prison sentence against 12 Omanis for an “illegal gathering” is another troubling sign of escalating efforts by the government to tighten its grip on power, which has been shaken by months of Arab Spring-inspired unrest. Freedom House calls on Oman’s Supreme Court to reverse this sentence immediately and urges officials to repeal all laws which criminalize the defamation of public officials.
The sentence comes on the heels of a court decision Monday in Muscat to imprison eight over internet posts critical of the recent crackdown on protests as well as the regime’s lackluster job creation. Court officials called this an “incitement” against the government. 10 other people were sentenced last month to up to 18 months in jail for online ‘slander’ after posting insulting comments directed against Sultan Qaboos on social media.
Oman is rated Not Free in Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2012 and Freedom of the Press 2012 surveys.