Corporal Punishment Of Children: Human Rights Watch's Middle East and North Africa Index - Oman

Oman should urgently fulfil its 2015 pledge at the UN to explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment of children, and enforce the prohibition effectively.

The Child Law of 2014 prohibits "any form of violence against the child." However, the penal code of 2018 explicitly exempts from punishment "the disciplining by parents, and their equivalents, of minor children within the limits of what is prescribed by Sharia or the law."[1]

Oman committed to "explicitly prohibit all corporal punishment of children in all settings" during the UN Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review in 2015.[2] In 2016, the Committee on the Rights of the Child stated its concern that corporal punishment was not explicitly prohibited and was "widely accepted in society as a way to discipline children in the home, in schools and in residential institutions."[3]

Corporal punishment, insults and harsh treatment of students are prohibited under Oman’s Organisational Statutes of the General Education Schools, and Ministerial Decree 91/99 provides an exclusive list of permitted disciplinary measures to be used with students, which do not include corporal punishment, according to the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children.[4]

However, according to news reports, in October 2016, the Education Ministry banned corporal punishment in schools in Muscat, reportedly "for the first time", subject to up to 5 years in jail and a 5,000 Riyal fine.[5] In November 2016, the education committee of the Shura Council rejected the ban on the basis that it was unnecessary since under the penal code, "parents can file a complaint against teachers or anyone who inflict scars or physical pain on their children," according to the head of the committee.[6]

Oman’s child protection hotline received a total of 442 complaints of violence against children in 2017, and 299 in 2016, according to a Ministry of Social Development official at a meeting about violence in schools in February 2018.[7]

[1] Child Law, Decree 22/ 2014, Article 56(h), https://www.mosd.gov.om/images/rules/Childs%20Law%20en.pdf; Penal Law, Promulgated by Royal Decree 7/2018, art. 44(a), http://www.mola.gov.om/eng/penallaw.aspx

[2] Universal Periodic Review – Oman, 5 November 2015, "Matrix of recommendations" (Recommendation 129.142, Estonia), https://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/UPR/Pages/OMindex.aspx.

[3] UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, "Concluding observations on the combined third and fourth periodic reports of Oman, 14 March 2016, para. 35, CRC/C/OMN/CO/3-4, ; https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/15/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CRC%2fC%2fOMN%2fCO%2f3-4&Lang=en.

[4] "Oman," Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children, updated January 2020, https://endcorporalpunishment.org/reports-on-every-state-and-territory/oman/.

[5] Gulf News, "Oman bans corporal punishment in Muscat schools," October 23, 2016,

https://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/oman/oman-bans-corporal-punishment-in-muscat-schools-1.1917293

[6] Times of Oman, "Oman education: No need to ban disciplinary beatings in schools, says Shura panel," November 26, 2016, http://timesofoman.com/article/97297

[7] https://www.omandaily.om/?p=567511

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