OUTLOOK — By Ali Al Matani — We don’t know the nature of the immunity the members of Majlis Ash'shura have; is it absolute or legalised by practising parliamentary work — as it is all over the world? Does it mean that Majlis members take advantage of this immunity with no responsibility or limit? Does it give those who enjoy it the right to insult community and ride over the heads of those people whose votes brought them to the Majlis? Who ensures the right of community if violated by Majlis members who use badly the immunity they enjoy?
How can citizens get their rights from a Majlis member if the immunity has been made a haven to which the representatives of the wilayats take refuge from prosecution and investigations; as if they are infallible angels or not subject to accountability?
Majlis Ash'shura vote for not stripping of the immunity of a member against whom a lawsuit of insulting dignity was filed is a condemnation of the Majlis itself and reveals its other side by all its levels and spectra; when it has to do with a member, the Majlis doesn't hesitate to intervene for protection. This means that legalising immunity within the limits of the parliamentary work is an urgent need; every member is like any other citizen; if a mistake is committed, law takes its course.
These practices establish for fatal mistakes that are not easily digested and say that there is no differentiation between ethical issues and parliamentary issues where immunity is a must. Here lies the danger; enjoying immunity in the wrong place and time. This absolute immunity may push for creating chaos in society and establishing a culture of discrimination between the members of community; with all mistakes that follow and which are difficult to be predicted.
Today, we are living in a state of law and institutions; there is no one who is not subject to law; all are equal before the law. As long as any official, a member of Majlis Ash'shura or Majlis Addawla, has insulted the dignity of community member, there is a mistake that must be corrected by law, to have things back to its right course. We should establish bright community where there is no discrimination among all members of our society. Our nation has no interest at all to go back to pre-1970.
How could a citizen whose dignity has been insulted recover from insult if the way to that is blocked by legislation? Don’t we, by this wrong practice of granting absolute immunity, establish for jungle law where the strong preys on the weak? Don’t we establish for a culture of taking rights by force — eye for an eye — and changing society to an age of revenge and strife?
Alas, we don’t differentiate between the parliamentary immunity and the other immunities of any official, whatever his position is, should not enjoy if he insulted any person whoever he or she is.
These are the principles of human justice and dignity that have roots a long before drafting legislation. Anyone who doesn’t respect his position or responsibilities has to pay the price; so that justice can prevail.
Releasing the rope of immunities for the members of Majlis Ash'shura or Majlis Addawla at liberty doesn’t support tolerable society that respects law. Immunities must not be a tool to avoid accountability for committing any mistakes.
We hope that Oman Council takes a bold step and asks for some amendments on immunities to be parliamentary not ethical, in order to be an example of altruism for everybody and provide a
typical lesson on how its members should give and take with society far from insults and defamation which are subject to the punishment by law.