Police used excessive force against peaceful and other protesters; at least two people were killed and others were injured. Hundreds of protesters were arrested; at least 80 were tried, many of whom were sentenced to prison terms. The authorities tightened restrictions on freedom of expression. Women and girls continued to face severe discrimination in law and in practice.
In January, people demonstrated against the cost of living and lack of job opportunities, and called for political reforms and the dismissal of government ministers and corrupt officials. Sultan Qaboos responded in February by raising the minimum wage, increasing benefits paid to the unemployed, promising to create 50,000 new jobs, and replacing several government ministers. In March, after protests spread, he dismissed more government ministers and subsequently amended the Constitution to cede some legislative powers to the Shura Council, the only elected body of the two that comprise the Majlis (Parliament). Elections were held on 15 October and those elected chose a President of the Shura Council for the first time. Oman’s human rights record was assessed under the UN Universal Periodic Review in March. Oman was urged to review its legislation to combat discrimination and violence against women.Top of page
Police and security forces used excessive force to disperse peaceful and other protests, using tear gas, firing rubber bullets and beating protesters. On 27 February, one man was reported to have died when police forcibly dispersed protesters in the town of Sohar. On 29 March, the security forces carried out a pre-dawn raid on protesters camped at Globe Roundabout in Sohar, reportedly beat those who refused to leave and at the same time arrested others at their homes.
Many protesters were arrested during the year and at least 80 were brought to trial. Some were convicted of offences such as insulting officials, disrupting traffic or acts of violence, and sentenced to prison terms.
On 20 April, Sultan Qaboos pardoned 234 people accused of committing “crimes of crowding in the streets” in the provinces of Dhank, Ibri, Sohar and Yanqul.Top of page
In October, the authorities amended Article 26 of the Press and Publications Law to prohibit the publication through any means, including the internet, of anything deemed likely to affect the safety of the state or its internal or external security or related to its military and security organs. The maximum penalty was set at two years’ imprisonment and a fine.
Women and girls continued to face severe discrimination in law and in practice, particularly in relation to personal status, employment and their subordination to male guardians. Around 77 women stood for election to the Shura Council, more than triple the number in 2007, although only one was elected.Top of page
No information was released about the imposition of the death penalty, and no executions were reported.Top of page