Arrests for Free Expression in the UAE and Oman

A UAE court has once again postponed the trial of Omani blogger Muawiya al-Rawahi on Sunday. A writer and human rights defender, al-Rawahi has been accused of insulting the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Mohamed bin Zayed. UAE authorities originally arrested al-Rawahi at the border with Oman almost a year ago, preventing him from returning to his home country. Al-Rawahi has complained about poor treatment in prison, stating that UAE security officials refused to give him his medicine for two months, which caused him to be hospitalized.

Omani authorities have also arrested al-Rawahi on charges related his past blog writings. In two separate incidents, al-Rawahi was arrested for expressing his disappointment with Oman’s current political situation, and for criticizing the repressive practices of the Omani security bodies.

In the past few years, Oman has joined other Gulf countries by increasingly restricting free expression. Omani courts convicted seven bloggers in 2013 for insulting Sultan Qaboos. These defendants were previously arrested along with 35 other activists for expressing support for striking oil workers in 2012. Omani authorities arrested many of the bloggers, activists and journalists for criticizing the arrests of their colleagues. The government has charged all of these individuals with either wrongful gathering, insulting the country’s ruler, or both.

Margaret Bailey is an Advocacy Intern at ADHRB.