OHRC refutes HRW’s report

Muscat: Oman Human Rights Commission (OHRC) followed the recently published report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) that dealt with certain human rights topics in the Sultanate over the year 2020.

In a statement, OHRC said that through its follow-up to the human rights situation in the Sultanate during 2020, OHRC affirmed that the Sultanate took tangible and significant steps to reinforce human rights as His Majesty Sultan Haitham bin Tarik issued several Royal Decrees the most notable among them was the Royal Decree No 6/2021 on the promulgation of the Basic Law of the State with its new amendments which guaranteed freedoms, human dignity, equality in rights and responsibilities. This is in addition to a number of other Royal Decrees on restructuring the state administrative apparatus in line with the Oman Future Vision 2040 with the aim of achieving more of the citizens’ aspirations during the upcoming period.

Additionally, OHRC followed up the other steps that were taken by the government of the Sultanate to enhance human rights through joining international conventions and treaties and adapting its local legislations with their provisions. Once ratified, these international conventions acquire the force of local law.

In this regard, the year 2020 saw the Sultanate joining three international conventions related to human rights. Royal Decree No 44/2020 ratified the Sultanate’s joining the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED) scripted in New York on December 20th, 2006. This convention aims to prevent enforced disappearance as well as crimes against humanity.

Besides, Royal Decree No 45/2020 ratified the Sultanate joining the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment which aims to prevent torture all over the world and obliges member states to take effective measures to prevent torture within their boundaries. It also prohibits forcing any person to return to his country of origin when there are grounds to believe that he will be subjected to torture. In addition, Royal Decree No 46/2020 ratified the Sultanate’s joining the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, a multi-party agreement that approved by the United Nations General Assembly whereby signatories commit to grant economic, social and cultural rights includes workers’ rights, the right to healthcare, the right to education and the right to an appropriate standard of living. Hence, the Sultanate has joined seven out of nine fundamental conventions on human rights.

With regard to the right to freedom of expression referred to by the organization, the OHRC said it has not reported any closure of a media outlet in 2020 as was mentioned by the organization in its report.

Regarding foreign workers, OHRC said that it followed up the measures taken by the government amid Covid-19 and its efforts to protect citizens and residents against the pandemic.

As regarding expiry of residence or visit visas and other short-term visas, OHRC said that no fines were issued and no legal action was taken against anyone whose visa expired.

OHRC said that it followed up the measures taken to protect foreign workers against Covid-19 which included pardoning hundreds of prisoners and sending them to their home countries through special flights, providing Covid-19 tests and treatment for free in all governorates of the Sultanate.

Regarding the issue of sexual freedom for homosexuals which was raised by the organization, OHRC reaffirmed that it has previously responded that the Sultanate, like many countries of the world, is governed in this regard by the principles of religion, ethics and social traditions all of which prohibit such practices.

With regard to the foreign female domestic workers, OHRC said that it is following the procedures taken by the authorities concerned with the protection of human rights such as Royal Oman Police, the National Committee for Combating Human Trafficking (NCCHT) and other relevant authorities by allocating direct contact lines. OHRC affirmed that it provides shelter for domestic workers until legal action is taken to ensure their rights in accordance with the law.

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