The Importance of Human Rights.

The importance of human rights lies in promoting and safeguarding the dignity, freedom, and equality of all individuals, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, religion, or social status. Human rights are fundamental entitlements that every person is inherently entitled to by virtue of being human. These rights are enshrined in various international and regional legal instruments and serve as a critical framework for ensuring a just and equitable society.

The United Nations defines human rights as: “Rights inherent to all human beings, irrespective of nationality, place of residence, sex, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status. We are all equally entitled to our human rights without discrimination. These rights are interrelated, interdependent, and indivisible.”

In other words, human rights are universal, indivisible, and interconnected, forming the basis for promoting and upholding the well-being and equality of all individuals worldwide.

Based on international treaties and covenants such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, the implementation and adherence to the provisions of these agreements signify broad protection of rights, including:

  • Dignity, respect, and protection against degrading, inhumane treatment, arbitrary detention, or enforced disappearance.
  • Public and individual freedoms, including freedom of expression, assembly, and religion.
  • Equality and non-discrimination, prohibiting discrimination based on race, gender, religion, or other factors. • Economic and social rights, such as the right to education, healthcare, and a decent standard of living.
  • The Rule of Law, accountability, and ensuring that those in authority are responsible for their actions.
  • Peace and security, promoting the presence of peaceful and stable societies.
  • Empowerment and participation in decision-making processes, providing a framework for civic engagement and democratic governance, including the freedom of association and assembly.

In Oman, despite the government’s endorsement of several international agreements, such as the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and the Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance, the state of human rights, individual freedoms, and personal safety continues to deteriorate. Examples of these violations include:

  • Omani laws criminalize freedom of opinion and expression, leading to the arrest of numerous activists, writers, and journalists based on their views expressed on social media or in journalistic reports.
  • Several activists are arbitrarily arrested or subjected to enforced disappearances. When a person is forcibly disappeared, they are typically denied communication with their families or legal representatives and information about their whereabouts is withheld. The Internal Security Service Law has granted the security authorities broad powers for arbitrary arrests or enforced disappearances.
  • The establishment of political parties or human rights associations/organizations is considered a crime in Oman, punishable by imprisonment from 3 to 10 years under Article 116 of the Omani Penal Code.

Overall, since 2011, the human rights situation and individual freedoms in Oman have experienced a sharp decline. There is intense surveillance by security agencies and official institutions over any content published on the internet and social media platforms. Consequently, individuals exercise self-censorship in their social media accounts, workplaces, and even in public interactions, to avoid accountability or arrest.

Finally, human rights empower individuals to actively engage in decision-making processes that influence their lives. By providing a framework for citizen participation and democratic governance, human rights create opportunities for individuals to actively shape their communities and societies. The recognition and application of human rights principles are essential for building a world that cherishes dignity, equality, and freedom, ultimately leading to more just, peaceful, and inclusive societies.

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