Saturday, July 30, 2011

Omani Journalist Banned from Writing. Really Oman?!

Can someone explain this to me please?

Human rights defender and journalist Mr Yousif Al-Haj is the subject of a criminal investigation and has been banned from writing or publishing articles by the Minister of Information since 8 July 2011.

The ban on writing stems from the publication of an article in which Yousif Al-Haj exposes the Minister of Justice and his Undersecretary for refusing to increase the salary and grade of a civil servant who has worked for the Omani State for a number of years. Yousif Al-Haj is a journalist with the Al-Zaman newspaper, and writes extensively on politics and social issues in Oman.

It is believed that the Public Prosecutor's Office advised the Minister for Information to issue the ban following the interrogation of Yousif Al-Haj on 5 July 2011. The ban is allegedly linked to the publication of an article on 14 May 2011 in which Yousif Al-Haj discusses the case of a civil servant who was refused an increase in his salary and grade by the Minister of Justice and his Undersecretary.

On 5 July 2011, Yousif Al-Haj received a phone call from the Public Prosecutor's Office ordering that he present himself immediately for questioning at the office regarding the publication of the aforementioned article. Because of such short notice, Yousif Al-Haj did not have sufficient time to call his lawyer, therefore there was no legal professional present during the interrogation.

Following the interrogation, Yousif Al-Haj was charged with: (1) Abusing the Minister of Justice and his Undersecretary; (2) Attempting to create a division in society; (3) Abusing the judiciary in Oman; (4) Violating the Publications and Publishing Law (Article 60); (5) Practicing a profession without a permit from the Ministry of Information. Yousif Al-Haj was not arrested, however he remains the subject of a criminal investigation. It is reported that during his interrogation, Yousif Al-Haj was threatened that he would be imprisoned because of the aforementioned article.

Yousif Al-Haj has been interrogated on three separate occasions in the past regarding other articles he has written, however this is the first time that a ban has been placed on him, prohibiting him from writing in future.

The designer of the Al-Zaman newspaper was also interrogated. When he stated that he was acting under orders given to him by the editor-in-chief, he was allowed to leave.

Front Line believes that the criminal investigation launched against, as well as the ban placed on, Yousif Al-Haj is solely a result of his legitimate work in the defence of human rights, in particular. his publication of articles that are critical of the Government.


  1. May Allah protect Yusuf AL Haji's name and life ameen.
    Its become something of a bad habit in khaleej these days, arresting bloggers, writers, journalists etc. There is no freedom of speech here, everything you say will be used against you in a court of law and you will be made to look like a big harami who is against the rulers..which is not the case for many who are arrested..they are just doing their jobs and airing opinions from all sides.

    I shall highlight this post with other human rights defenders in the area.. Allah asa'dhum ameen.

    Stay safe Susan. Love you. Ramadhan Kareem to the Famfam xx

  2. what does HARAMI mean in arabic?

  3. That's perhaps the biggest reason why I'm glad to be no longer resident in Oman. Remember Oman is not a democracy and there is no freedom of speech (unless you want to say nice things). I suspect the laws are originally designed to protect the state against those calling for theocracy, but are so broad and ill-defined as to make almost anything published illegal.

    Do you have a licence from the Ministry of Information to be a blogger Susan? This article above could easily be considered illegal, just for reproducing the Frontline Defenders article within Oman that discusses the case.

    My question is: What are the Omani Intelligentsia, journalists and on-line writers doing about it? Do you have anyone in the Majlis who supports freedom of debate? It's your country.

    best regards,
    Undercover Dragon

  4. "Yousif Al-Haj exposes the Minister of Justice and his Undersecretary for refusing to increase the salary and grade of a civil servant who has worked for the Omani State for a number of years." It is the quality of the work, not only the length of time in the position, that will gain advancement. Journalists today appear to live by the creed " Never let the facts get in the way of a good story" There are always two sides to every story,and the full facts are very rarely reported.