Oman

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Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Oman

Article 12 of Oman’s constitution speaks broadly of protection of the environment. This section states: “The State is responsible for public health and the means of prevention and treatment of diseases and epidemics. The State endeavors to provide healthcare for every Citizen and encourages the establishment of private hospitals, polyclinics and medical institutions to be under its supervision and in accordance with regulations determined by the Law. The State also works for the conservation of the environment, its protection, and the prevention of pollution”

Featured Legislation

1974: Royal Decree 34/74 was passed. This Decree (The Law on Marine Pollution Control) brought to light Oman’s early concern for the safety of its marine environment. This law prohibits the discharge or release of any pollutant from a ship, shore location or oil transport facility in the Pollution Free Zone of Oman.

1981: Royal Decree 53/1981 was enacted. The executive regulations oversee marine fishing and conservation of aquatic resources. For example, the capture of turtles is prohibited during the nesting season, as determined by the appropriate authority. The law also protects specific areas and collection of eggs on the islands and coasts, as determined by the Ministry.

1981: Royal Decree No. 25/81 was adopted. This Royal Decree is composed of three articles. Article 1 approves the accession of the government of the Sultanate of Oman to the international Convention on the Prevention of Pollution from Ships, 1973 (otherwise known as MARPOL and adopted on 2 November 1973). It also approves the Annexes and protocols to this Convention.

1982: Royal Decree No.10/82 was issued in order to protect land and marine life and to provide greatest possible health and social welfare for the nation and citizens; these regulations concern the discharge of liquid effluents to the marine environment.

1991: Royal Decree 90/1991 (Marine Pollution from Land Sources, ROPME) was approved, ratifying the Sultanate of Oman joining the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME). The aim of ROPME is to coordinate the Member States efforts towards protection of the water quality in the ROPME Sea Area and protect the environment systems as well as marine living and to abate the pollution caused by the development activities of the Member States.

2000: Ministerial Decision 200/2000 (Regulations for Crushers, Quarries, and Transport of Sand from Coasts, Beaches and Wadis) was signed. The legislation includes regulations regarding the areas from which sand and other geologic material can be sourced. Article 10 of MD 200/2000 has relevance to wadi works. The applicable articles provide information on prohibiting excavation of wadi areas, change to wadi courses and specify that permits are required when undertaking works within wadis.

2001: Royal Decree 114/2001 (Law on Conservation of the Environment and Prevention of Pollution) was created.  The legislation outlines regulatory requirements concerning protection of the environment, and includes applicable penalties for offenders. The articles of RD 114/2001 also provide guidance on allowable discharge into the marine environment, and no waste or any other substance of whatever kind, form or state shall be dumped into the marine environment without obtaining appropriate permits.

2005: ​​Ministerial Decision 159/2005 (Regulations on Liquid Waste in Maritime Environment) was ratified. The legislation sets out regulations for discharge of liquid waste into the marine environment. Liquid Waste is defined as any liquid containing environmental pollutants which are discharged into the maritime environment from land or sea sources. MD 159/05 also states:

2019: The Oman Vision (2040) was unveiled. It is a 20-year nationwide multisector document representing a guide and key reference for planning activities. The aim is to (i) build a productive and diversified economy, founded on innovation, integration of roles, and equal opportunities; (ii) leverage Oman’s competitive advantages, driven by the private sector towards integration into the world economy and active contribution to international trade; and (iii) achieve inclusive and sustainable development, based on effective economic leadership that operates within an institutional framework of coherent and contemporary economic policies and legislation, to ensure financial sustainability diversifying public revenues. The Sultanate aims to (i) double the per capita share of GDP to reach a 6 percent growth, with non-oil sectors, primarily tourism, logistics, manufacturing, fisheries and mining; (ii) increase the rate of Omani nationals in the private sector to 42%; and (iii) increase foreign investment to 10 percent of GDP.

  • No discharge of any liquid waste in the maritime environment shall be allowed, either directly or indirectly, prior to obtaining a license
  • The license applicant should undertake to reuse or recycle the liquid waste or eliminate or reduce the dangerous components of such waste through the use of environmentally friendly technology
  • A detailed description of the liquid to be disposed of shall be an essential prerequisite for consideration of granting the license
  • The end of the discharge pipe should be at a depth of no less than 1m under the minimum tidal height.
  • The temperature of liquid waste, at the discharge point, shall not exceed 10°C above the temperature of the sea water surrounding the water discharge point
  • The end of the discharge pipe should not impact corals, algae or seagrasses

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders has reported an uptick in “judicial harassment” of environmental rights defenders and online activists who work for the preservation of green areas and their natural heritage in the Dhofar Plain of the Dhofar Governorate in Oman. Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan and Mr. Salem Ali Al-Maashani have been vocal proponents of conservation efforts in the country’s most vulnerable areas, shining a light on corrupt bureaucrats who profit off of the destruction of the land. On February 23, 2021, Dr. Issa Qatan was arrested by the Internal Security Service (ISS) and was charged by a public prosecutor with “using social media in a way that would prejudice public order” (article 19 of the Cyber Crime Law). Dr. Issa Qatan was then remanded in custody for two weeks pending trial. The fight for the preservation of the Dhofar plain is a protracted one, as environmental activists challenge draconian decrees which have been adopted by the Minister of State and Governor of Dhofar  in parts of the Dhofar Plain. These decrees are being used in order to build residential complexes and expand Dhofar Plain housing planning. The Observatory firmly condemns the ongoing “judicial harassment” of Dr. Ahmed Issa Qatan and Salem Ali Al-Maashani, calling upon the international community to act. The organization also recognizes that this form of harassment is merely an attempt to silence any dissident and civil society voices demanding transparency and accountability from the government.

References and Further Reading

Contacts

Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs: contact@meca.gov.om