Oman: UN experts denounce detention of journalist Yousuf Al Haj and warn against restrictions on freedom of the press in the country | Alkarama Foundation
Geneva (February 12, 2018) – The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (WGAD ) has today published an Opinion on the high-profile case of Omani journalist Yousuf Al Haj, stating that his almost 15 month-long arbitrary detention was “clearly connected to his activity as a journalist”.
The Opinion – adopted on November 24, 2017, and made public on February 12, 2018 – came after the Alkarama Foundation referred Al Haj’s case to the WGAD in March 2017. Alkarama requested that the UN experts call upon the Omani authorities to release Al Haj and to respect freedom of the press in the country.
The WGAD considered Al Haj’s case after his October 2017 release, and expressed concern that “his conviction may serve as the legal precedent for the arrest, detention and punishment or threat thereof to silence critics in the future.”
Establishing a posteriori the arbitrary nature of Al Haj’s detention, the WGAD found that the Omani authorities committed multiple violations of minimum fail trial guarantees and due process, and that Al Haj’s detention stemmed directly from his legitimate activity as a journalist. In this regard, the WGAD called upon the Omani authorities to provide Al Haj and his colleagues from Al Zaman newspaper with their right to compensation.