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Public Prosecution reports surge in criminal cases

5 Feb 2024 Public Prosecution reports surge in criminal cases By OUR CORRESPONDENT

Muscat – In its annual press conference held on Monday, the Public Prosecution reported an increase in criminal cases in the sultanate in the year 2023. A total of 37,836 cases were registered, marking a 17.2% rise from the previous year. Notably, bounced cheques led the reported list of offences.

Nasr bin Khamis al Sawai, Public Prosecutor, highlighted the concerning uptick in financial misconduct, with cases of misuse of public funds and money laundering increasing from 154 in 2022 to 219 in 2023. Despite this, Oman maintains one of the lowest crime rates globally compared to countries of similar economic, geographic and social status, he added.

Collaborative efforts between Public Prosecution and the State Audit Institute ensure round-the-clock scrutiny of cases, facilitating timely evaluations, Sawai informed.

Detailing the breakdown of the total number of cases, Dr Ahmed bin Saeed al Shukaili, Assistant Public Prosecutor, said there were 35,777 cases of misdemeanour, 3,777 felonies and 282 other violations and complaints. Cases of misdemeanour accounted for 94.6% of the total, followed by 4.7% felonies.

Of the total registered, Public Prosecution adjudicated 96.9% cases. Bounced cheque cases comprised the maximum number of frequent offences with 8,461 reported, followed by violations of Labour Law (7,571), Foreigners’ Residence Law (6,263), Consumer Protection Law (3,340) and fraud (3,202). Muscat governorate reported the highest number of cases (16,534), followed by North Batinah (5,913) and Dhofar (3,922).

(L) Nasr bin Khamis al Sawai, Public Prosecutor, and Dr Ahmed bin Saeed al Shukaili, Assistant Public Prosecutor

The Public Prosecution Department in the Supreme Court received 812 appeals, which saw 100% completion rate. The court aligned with the Public Prosecution’s stance in 87% of the appeals.

Royal Oman Police was the primary source of cases – 28,575 – followed by submissions through Public Prosecution’s electronic services portal (3,581) and Consumer Protection Authority (2,375).

The year also saw an 18.8% increase in the number of offenders – totalling 47,667 – of which 45.9% are expatriates. Premeditated murder cases decreased, with seven reported in 2023 compared to 13 in 2022.

Shukaili emphasised the critical role of legal awareness in crime prevention and described the implementation of various programmes in coordination with both official and private institutions as part of an annual plan to educate and inform the public.

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