PPF is concerned over shutting down of Azamn newspaper and sending its journalists to prison in Oman

Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF) in a letter to Qaboos bin Said al Said, Sultan of Oman to expressed concern over the ruling of the court to permanently shut down Azamn newspaper and send three of its journalists to prison, including editor-in-chief the newspaper.

PPF Secretary General Owais Aslam Ali in his letter urged Sultan of Oman to take action against the ruling as it will curb freedom of opinion and expression.

According to Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI), the Muscat Court of First Instance pronounced Ibrahim al-Maamari, Chief Editor and Yousef al-Baloushi- aka Yousef Al-Haj, Editorial Secretary to three years of imprisonment and they have to pay a fine of 3000 RO (US $7,800) per capita, and a ban on working as a journalist for a period of one year.

The court also sentenced Zaher Al-Abri, a journalist for the same newspaper, to one-year imprisonment and fined him a thousand Omani riyals (US $1125).

The Omani Internal Security Service (ISS) Intelligence has also arrested Al-Haj and detained him. In a previous incident, ISS arrested Al-Abri, after he was summoned to appear before the Special Division of the Omani police on 3 August 2016, together with al-Maamari, who was arrested on July 28 in the same year; against the backdrop of publishing a report alleging the Supreme Court’s President was interfering to undermine the judicial independence by carrying out directives from supreme bodies.

The use of the judiciary to curb freedom of opinion and expression and imprisonment journalists would increase the ratio occurrence of corruption.