Muscat: Spreading false news and rumours can get both citizens and residents in Oman three years of imprisonment, says the country’s Public Prosecution.
Read here: 11 arrested for violating quarantine; 9 booked for spreading rumours
Having seen many rumours being circulated over the the spread of the coronavirus in various governorates of the Sultanate, the Public Prosecution has made it clear that such acts will lead to imprisonment.
“Dear citizen/resident: Sending or retransmitting false news or rumours that might harm public order through various means of technology is a crime that carries a sentence of three years imprisonment,” the authorities warned on their official Twitter handle.
This, in fact, came as a response to the Ministry of Health’s (MoH) plea to the public to follow official news channels with regard to news about coronavirus.
“Dear followers, a lot of rumours are currently being circulated about a number of cases of coronavirus stating new developments in Salalah, Barka, Al Mudhaibi, Al Mussanah and a number of other governorates of the Sultanate. We inform you that all of this is incorrect except for what has been officially published at the MoH,” the officials said.
Talking exclusively to the Times of Oman, Hamood Abdullah Al Mukhaini, a lawyer at Al Tamimi Al Barwani & Co, said that the law has differentiated between circulation of rumours and public news related to the state. He also pointed out the impact of rumours on society as a whole, as well as those rumours that concerned individuals and their personal lives.
“As per article 115A of the Oman Penal Code on the circulation of rumours and false news at the state level, the offender shall be subjected to imprisonment of not less than three months and not more than three years. This applies to those who incite, broadcast or intentionally release false news inside or outside the country, including data or rumours or inciting propaganda that affect state sovereignty or mitigates confidence in its security markets or its economic or financial position," Al Mukhaini said.
He added that there are also punishments on circulating false news about an individual.
“The Law on Combating Cybercrime issued by Royal Decree No. 12/2011 has dealt with the penalty for such act if committed by using the technology or means of communication. Article 16 of the same law states that whoever disseminates news on private lives of others by the use of technology shall be subjected to imprisonment of not less than one year and not more than three years and a fine of not less than OMR 1000 and not more than OMR 5000. This includes the use of applications such as WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram and other means of communication,” Al Mukhaini said.
“Article 330 of Oman Penal Code, promulgated by Royal Decree No. 7/2018 stated that whoever disseminates news or comments offending the private lives of others shall be subjected to imprisonment of not less than one month and not more than one year if such act is committed without the use of technology such as dissemination of rumours at the workplace,” he added.
In 2013, Al Tamimi became involved in the fast-paced development taking place in Oman by establishing an office in Muscat. Their office was established under the Al Tamimi name and provides advice on local laws and regulations. The office is headed by Ahmed Al Barwani, a well-respected lawyer with an abundance of experience and tremendous success in Oman.