Head of state and government Sultan Qaboos bin Said
Death penalty retentionist
Population 2.8 million
Life expectancy 75.5 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f) 14/13 per 1,000
Adult literacy 84.4 per cent
Women and girls, and members of two tribes, continued to face discrimination. A journalist was prosecuted for exposing state censorship.
Women and girls
Women and girls continued to face discrimination in law, particularly family law, and in practice.
Aal Tawayya and Aal Khalifayn tribes
Around 15 people belonging to Aal Tawayya and Aal Khalifayn tribes continued to suffer economic and social problems due to a 2006 Interior Ministry decision to rename their tribes "Awlad Tawayya" and "Awlad Khalifayn", affiliating them to the main al-Harithi tribe. This reduced their status to that of "akhdam", effectively servants of al-Harithi tribe. A 2008 court action against the Ministry‘s decision failed. The government said it had addressed the tribes’ grievance but some members of the tribes were reported to still face difficulties in renewing their identity cards, which are needed to register businesses, obtain travel documents, and arrange matters such as divorce and inheritance.
In June, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, when examining Oman’s compliance with the UN Children’s Convention, expressed concern about continuing discrimination against children born out of wedlock; abuses and ill-treatment within the family and in institutions; and disparities in access to health and education faced by children in rural areas and children of foreign nationals. Among other things, the Committee urged the government to establish a minimum age of criminal responsibility, create an independent national human rights institution, and re-examine reservations Oman entered when ratifying the Convention.
Freedom of expression
- ‘Ali al-Zuwaydi, a journalist and moderator of a section of the Sablat Oman Forum website, was sentenced to 10 days in prison and fined in April for publicizing a government directive instructing a radio programme not to broadcast live calls or accept calls from people who wished to comment on military, security and judicial issues or anything concerning the head of state. He was released as he had already spent more than 10 days in jail.
- Wosim Tahan, a Syrian computer engineer and resident of Oman for around two years, was reportedly ill-treated in police custody following his arrest in July for unknown reasons. He was held incommunicado at Mahda Prison for four days and was reported to have not been given food for around 36 hours. He was denied prompt access to his family, was not allowed to see a lawyer, and had no opportunity to challenge his detention. In October, the government told Amnesty International that Wosim Tahan had entered Oman illegally and had been deported, but did not say when or give any further details.