Friday, January 22, 2010

Charges dropped against reporter A’sem Al-Sheedi on ROP corruption article

In my post-New Year party haze I missed this story, but expat blogger Lord of the Fiord just pointed out that on Jan. 2nd 2010 the Oman Authorities dropped charges against the Omani reporter A'Sem Al Sheedi for slandering the reputation of the ROP, after he refused to name his source for an article accusing ROP officers of corruption and falsifying traffic fines. The story of his arrest was fortunately picked up by international human rights NGO Frontline Defenders.

The original report was unusual as it was published in the Omani Government controlled newspaper, and (deliberately?) leaked documents showed the head of the ROP had instructed the office of public prosecutions to investigate the claim, punish any ROP found to have been acting improperly or, if found to be untrue, to arrest the reporter.

The investigation claimed to have found no evidence of such corrupt practice in the ROP, and thus - surprise surprise - arrested the reporter.

So its a good news/bad news story.

Good news that the original article was published in the first place, and that the ROP felt moved to respond in public. Good news for Al Sheedi that he's had the charges dropped (probably after promising not to do it again).

Bad news that the story was not confirmed as true, as combined with the subsequent charges against a reporter it will serve as yet another disincentive against such investigative stories.

But congratulations A'sem. Don't give up on the reporting. And thanks Lord of the Fiord for spotting it.

I can't help but hope the attention of such international NGOs is acting as a disincentive for the Government to pursue such petty prosecutions. Which bodes well for all of us...

Photo: Charges have been dropped against Omani reporter Asem Al Sheedi, [pic from Frontline Defenders].

Oman: UPDATE - Charges against writer Mr A’sem Al-Sheedi have been dropped.

Front Line welcomes the news that the Oman Police has halted its judicial prosecution of journalist Mr A’sem Al-Sheedi who had been accused of denouncing the police in an article published in an Oman newspaper on 7 December 2009. The article included information on police corruption.

On 2 January 2010, the Oman Police published a statement in local newspapers reporting that they had received a reply from the Attorney General Office (AGO) based on which they consider the case to be closed. The AGO's detailed reply, which was also published with the police statement, concluded that the investigation committee formed by the AGO had not found any evidence of fraud in the traffic police apparatus as claimed by the writer.

1 comment:

  1. This is really happy news, UD and yes let us all give a big hand for Mr. Sheedi's courage. It is a very encouraging development that Oman Government has probably recognised that whistle blowing is required to keep corruption down.


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