III. Challenges to the exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly

A. Legal framework

19. The Special Rapporteur finds that the country’s legal framework is not conducive to the free and unhindered exercise of the right to freedom of peaceful assembly. He is particularly concerned that:

(c) Some provisions in the laws are so broadly worded as to allow virtually unlimited interpretations of what could be an offence. That places excessive discretion in the hands of implementing authorities and creates uncertainty about what the law means for those exercising their rights. Some of the prohibitions impair the very essence of the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly, opinion and expression. For example, article 34 of the Penal Code defines public crimes as:

The ones perpetrated by the following means: (1) Acts and gestures committed in a public place, or a place open to the public or exposed to sight, or those seen, due to the offender’s fault, by an individual not intervening in the act or gesture; (2) Speech and screams either made directly by the offender or through devices, so as they are heard by an individual not intervening in such speech or screams; (3) Various writings, drawings, pictures, photographies (sic), films, emblems, if shown in a public place or a place open to the public”. Article 223 prohibits homosexuality and states that “the suspects of homosexual or lesbian intercourse shall be prosecuted without a prior complaint, if the act results in a public scandal.”

Public scandal is defined in the same way as public crime, making it de facto illegal for individuals to peacefully gather to claim the rights of sexual minorities;

VII. Conclusion and recommendations

B. Recommendations

70. The Special Rapporteur would like to offer the following general recommendations:

(d) Ensure a conducive and safe environment for everyone exercising or seeking to exercise his or her rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, abolish legislation that criminalizes homosexuality and ensure that State obligations to achieve non-discrimination and equality are immediate and not subject to progressive realization (see A/HRC/26/29, para. 19);

Link to full text of the report: Report-SRAssembly-Oman-2015-eng


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