UPDATE: Bahrain: Court clears Ghada Jamsheer of defamation

Women's rights activist Ghada Jamsheer was found not guilty of defaming a Sharia judge by the Lower Criminal Court on 28 December 2005. The court ruled that there was not enough evidence to prosecute Ms Jamsheer because the judge only had one witness who supported his claim against her.
Only one witness would testify that he had heard Ms Jamsheer insult the judge, although another did say that he only heard her call him an 'oppressor'. "The judge ruled in favour of my client because there wasn't sufficient evidence against her," said Ms Jamsheer's lawyer Mohammed Al Mutawa.

Ms Jamsheer had always denied any wrongdoing. "I'm very pleased with the results. The fact that I have won a case against a Shari'a judge shows that the courts are transparent and just."

The rulings came from the criminal court but Ms Jamsheer vowed to continue her fight for the reform of the Shari'a courts and its judges, which she and other critics say are given too much scope for interpretation.

This is the latest in a string of cases against Ms Jamsheer and the first in which she was actually found not guilty.

The previous cases were either dropped or dismissed by the court as illegitimate.

This leaves only one case remaining against Ms Jamsheer. It was filed by the same judge, who claimed that she had called him on the phone and swore at him.

Ms Jamsheer is one of Bahrain's most vocal advocates for a personal status law to replace the current Shari'a system, which has often been criticised for being unfair to women.

Campaigners say that Shari'a judges often rule unfairly in favour of men in custody, divorce and inheritance issues, and allow husbands to get away with emotionally and physically abusing their wives.

Previously, on 13 December 2005 the High Criminal Appeals Court upheld a previous ruling that the Public Prosecution had brought a case against Ghada illegally. Ms Jamsheer, a campaigner for a personal status law, declared the decision a victory for the women's rights movement. Ghada is one of the country's most prominent advocates of a personal status law to replace the current Shari'a system, which critics say grants Shari'a judges too much scope for interpretation - allowing them to make unfair judgements on issues related to divorce, child custody and inheritance.

This remaining case against Ghada Jamsheer was raised by Jassim Mutlaq Al Thawadi, one of the Shari'a judges, accusing her of using abusive language. It is important to note that Al Thawadi was dismissed from his position by the King following the campaign by the Committee of Women’s Petition campaign that Jamsheer headed.