Today we discussed issues around law and legislation in Oman. We started out by visiting the Sultan Qaboos University Law School. In Oman, lawyers are trained after their secondary education – with many students ending up working on legal affairs in Ministry offices or for private law firms. The Dean of the university discussed with us the history of the law school and legal study in Oman. Both Congressman Buechner and Congressman Minge studied law. Congressman Minge currently serves as a judge on the Minnesota Court of Appeals. One issue that came up as being interesting is that Oman has no current Civil Code on which to base laws. Civil cases are decided either by Sharia courts or by individual judges without precedent guiding previous cases. The Dean also discussed partnerships the law school has with Georgetown and Pittsburgh. We also visited the Ministry of Legal Affairs, the governmental body in Oman that is responsible for drafting legislation and providing other government bodies with legal advice. It is a distinct body from the Ministry of Justice which is responsible all matters relating to the judiciary. Three staff members there were also Fellows in the Legislative Fellows Program. The Ministry drafts the laws and legislation to be signed by royal decree by the Sultan of Oman. Finally we met with SASLO Legal Training Center which provides skill based training and practice for lawyers, judges and prosecutors as well as non-lawyer professionals in Oman and the region. The director of the Center is former US Ambassador to Oman – Richard Baltimore. Our discussion here centered around legal education and the role lawyers have in a civil society. Also, Ambassador Baltimore shared with us his knowledge of the region and the Omani people. Striking in our conversations has been the sense of optimism that many Omani’s have of the future and the future of democracy in the region. The Sultan is seen as very benevolent and peaceful and has continued leading Oman as a peace building nation in the Gulf region. The kindness and hospitality of the people we have encountered in our meetings and on the streets has been phenomenal. We also made the paper today! Our meeting yesterday with the Muscat American Business Association was mentioned in Muscat Daily. Tonight we will be attending a reception at the US Ambassador’s house where we will meet with other Department of State programs in Oman.
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