Online activist Hassan Al-Basham died on 28 April 2018 while serving a three-year sentence in Samail Central Prison in Oman after he experienced a sharp drop in his blood sugar levels. Omani authorities did not provide him with timely medical attention.
Al-Basham was convicted in 2016 on charges including “insulting the Sultan” and “the use of the Internet in what might be prejudicial to religious values.” He is reported to have suffered from diabetes and high blood pressure. In November 2017, the Court of Appeal in Muscat upheld his sentence and banned the defense team from presenting medical reports that proved his deteriorating health.
By failing to provide treatment to al-Basham during his detention and ignoring calls for a medical examination, Omani authorities violated the non-interference principle of medical impartiality. Interfering with al-Basham’s access to health care contravenes Rule 27 of the UN Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners, also known as Mandela Rules, whereby “Prisoners who require specialized treatment or surgery shall be transferred to specialized institutions or to civil hospitals,” as well as Rule 24, which states that “Prisoners should enjoy the same standards of health care that are available in the community […].”
Omani authorities should ensure that all prisoners have access to adequate and timely health care. Furthermore, authorities should investigate the circumstances that led to al-Basham’s death, and hold accountable those responsible for violating his basic rights.