OMN 001 / 0221 / OBS 027
Arbitrary detention /
February 26, 2021
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.
Description of the situation
The Observatory has been informed by the Gulf Centre for Human Rights (GCHR) about the arbitrary detention of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan, an environmental rights defender and specialist in desalination of sea water, who defends the preservation of green areas and their natural heritage in the Dhofar Plain of the Dhofar Governorate in Oman.
On February 23, 2021, Dr. Issa Qatan was arrested by the Internal Security Service (ISS) upon arrival at the Special Division of the Salalah Police Command where he had been summoned to appear the same day. During interrogations, Dr. Issa Qatan was denied access to his lawyer.
On February 24, the Public Prosecutor charged Dr. Issa Qatan with “using social media in a way that would prejudice public order” and remanded him in custody for two weeks pending trial. Dr. Issa Qatan remains detained in the detention centre of the Dhofar Governorate Police Command’s Directorate of Criminal Inquiries and Investigation, in Salalah. The first hearing in his case will take place on March 8, 2021.
In his fight for the preservation of the Dhofar plain, Dr. Issa Qatan opposes a decree adopted by the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar Mohammed Bin Sultan Bin Hamoud Al-Busaidi, which imposes, among other measures, a ban of camel grazing in parts of the Dhofar Plain in order to build residential complexes.
Using his Twitter account to defend his environmental views, Dr. Issa Qatan posted several tweets on his personal account about the Ministerial Decree at stake, putting the emphasis on the importance to preserve the natural environment of the coastal plain, and calling on the authorities to nullify the transfer of the Dhofar Plain to housing planning.
The Observatory firmly condemns the arbitrary detention of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan, which appears to be only aimed at sanctioning him for his defence of environmental rights.
The Observatory also fears that the arbitrary detention and judicial harassment of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan constitute another attempt to silence any dissident and civil society voices demanding transparency and accountability from the government.
The Observatory calls on the authorities of Oman to immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Issa Qatan, and to put an end to any act of harassment, including at the judicial level, against him and all human rights defenders in the country.
Please write to the authorities in Oman, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical integrity and psychological well-being of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan and of all human rights defenders in Oman;
ii. Immediately and unconditionally release Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan as well as all human rights defenders arbitrarily detained in the country;
iii. Guarantee the access of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan to a lawyer of his own or his family’s choosing.
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment, including at the judicial level, against Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan as well as 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.
- Mr. Abdulmalik bin Abdullah Al Khalili, Minister of Justice of Oman, Email: email@example.com
- Mr. Hamoud bin Faisal bin Saeed Al Busaidi, Minister of Interior of Oman, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- H.E. Mr. Abdulla Nasser Al Rahbi, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of the Sultanate of Oman to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland., Email: email@example.com
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of Oman located in your country.
Geneva-Paris, February 26, 2021
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 OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39
• Tel FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18