Oman’s invitation to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Peaceful Assembly and Association in order to assess the situation in the country is a commendable move that highlights the sultanate’s commitment to reform and transparency.
This is particularly noteworthy considering that it comes as part of Muscat’s pledge to address its citizens’ grievances following the mass protests of 2011. Since then, Oman has promised jobs and scholarships to its citizens and the country has seen a vibrant civil society becoming active. The sultanate has strived to listen and respond to its citizens. While the UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai heavily criticised Oman for its treatment of protesters and what he called its “flawed” assembly law, he nonetheless pointed out that Oman was the first Middle Eastern country to invite him. In a press conference held in Muscat, he called on Oman to scrap the current assembly law instead of amending it, and introduce a new one.
It is not common for regional states to invite rights activists and officials and give them a platform to criticise them. And for that Oman should be commended.