Source The Observatory
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, 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 was 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.
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.