Public Prosecution committee to investigate COVID-19 rumours

Business Saturday 28/March/2020 16:24 PM
By: Times News Service
Public Prosecution committee to investigate COVID-19 rumours

Muscat: Oman’s Public Prosecution authority will form a committee which will investigate those who act against the Law on Combating Infectious Diseases, and punish those who are found guilty of breaking it under the full extent of the law.

The committee will also look up those persons who spread negative rumours about COVID-19 in Oman, and the decision was made by Nasser bin Khamis Al Sawai, the head of Public Prosecution, following the issuance of Royal Decree 32/2020, which made amendments to the existing regulations of the law.

The committee that has been formed is chaired by the Director General of the Public Prosecution in the Governorate of Muscat has as its members the Directors General of all governorates of the Sultanate.

Explaining the reason for the formation of this committee, assistant prosecutor Jassem Al Yaqoubi said, “Circulating these rumours pose a great danger to society, because they could harm public health or public order. This is why Public Prosecution has created a special committee to monitor all of the false news that is circulated through social media platforms, and investigate the rumours that are being circulated, as well as enforce the legal measures against these. For example, if rumours were to be spread online, they would be in violation of the Anti-IT Crime Law, and punishment for this act would be imprisonment for three years in jail and a fine of up to OMR 3,000”

Assistant prosecutor Dr Saif Al Hadidi had also said in a recent interview with Oman TV, the country’s national broadcaster, that stronger penalties had been imposed so that people are discouraged from spreading these rumours that cause panic in society.

“Royal Decree number 32/2020 amended some articles of the Law on Combating Infectious Diseases, and the amendment was focused on increasing the penalties towards existing acts that were considered criminal, it added some more acts that could be considered crimes under the law, and specified the penalties incurred for each act,” he said.

“The penalties that were increased by the recent amendments are commensurate with the current stage of infection, so that those who disobey the instructions of the Ministry of Health don’t cause panic in the community, because it is important to let people know how the infection spreads, as has been discovered by scientists,” Al Hadidi added. “A percentage of reported cases were due to people not following instructions issued by the ministry.”

Oman’s Public Prosecution will also take measures to spread awareness on the spread and prevention of COVID-19 in the community, so that people take adequate steps to stay away from the causes of the diseases.

“The Public Prosecution also undertakes steps to educate the community about all legal consequences that may arise from violating government decisions related to following the preventive measures against COVID-19, and also receives reports from all government agencies related to certain acts that have been committed contrary to the decisions of the Supreme Committee, such as shop owners refusing to close their shops.”