Bahrain: A women's rights activist faces trial and imprisonment

The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights
The Bahrain Centre for Human Rights (BCHR) is concerned about three criminal charges made against women's rights campaigner Ms. Ghada Yusuf Jamsheer, accusing her of foul language, abusing a shari'ah family court and a former shari'a judge.
According to restrictive laws, Ms. Jamsheer could face a sentence of up to 15 years imprisonment. She will face three trials, on the 4th, 15th and 19th of June 2005. BCHR appeals to national and International organizations to intervene urgently and to do whatever neccesary.
Ms. Jamsheer has been campaigning for reforming the General Prosecution and shari'ah family Courts. There are many recent cases where the authorities used restrictive laws, such as the Penal Code of 1976 and Law on the press of 2002, to bring activists and journalists before the courts. BCHR states that another of their concerns is that the General Prosecution and the judiciary in Bahrain are far from independent.

Hence, BCHR considers the criminal charges against Ms. Jamsheer as related to freedom of expression and peaceful activities, and an effort by the authorities to keep pressure on Ms. Jamsheer to cease her activities. The BCHR Appeals to drop all charges against Ms. Jamsheer, to decrease pressure on activists concerning women rights and to amend laws which hinder activism and criminalize the practice of basic rights.


Ghada Yusif Jamsheer is a Bahraini business woman, aged 38, lives in Muharraq. She is the president of the Women's Petition Committee which has been debating complaints and cases violating the rights and dignity of women in the shari'a family courts, and calling for urgent need to qualify shari'a Court Judges. She is also the president of the Bahrain Social Partnership for Combating Violence Against Women which is under the supervision of Amnesty International.

For the last four years, Ms. Jamsheer has continuously organized protests and vigil in support of reforms of shari'a family jurisdiction in Bahrain. A call by Ms. Jamsheer to dismiss the General Prosecutor sheikh A. Rahman Bin Jabr Al Khalifa, who was the head of the abolished State Security Court, could be the real reason behind the current cases. The call was declared in a statement when Women’s Petition Committee members and supporters gathered outside the Justice Ministry in a show of solidarity against discrimination.

The First Case

The General Prosecution has forwarded Case 8610/2005 to the higher penal Court and allocating a session for the date commencing 4 June 2005. The General Prosecution charged Ms. Jamsheer for committing criminal acts during the period commencing from October 2002 to June 2003 as follows:
  1. She has criticized publicly the shari'a judges in Bahrain as "Corrupted, Personalized and Un-Qualified" through a publication distributed to the Public;
  2. She has criticized a judge of the higher shari'a Court, named Jassim Mutlaq Al Thawadi, for his rudeness and not being fair during practicing his duties;
  3. She abused the above mentioned shari'a Judge, during his practices of his task, by using abusive language as per records of documentation.
Accordingly, the General Prosecution decided that Ms. Jamsheer has committed a crime which is should be penalized according to articles No 2/76, 3-1/92, 107/item 1, 216, 222/1, 365/1, 3-1/366 of the Penal Code and article 70/B from Law decree No 47 for the year 2002 on Press and Publishing.

The Second Case

Case No. 1793/2005 was raised against Ghada Jamsheer by one of the shari'a Judges for abusive language with reference made to articles No 2/92 and 2/1/365 of the Penal Law in front of the Primary Penal fifth Court. A session for litigation has been appointed for the forthcoming date 15th June 2005.

The Third Case

Case No. 3938/2044 which was raised against Ghada Jamsheer through the General Prosecution by an ex-husband of a divorced woman whose case was adopted by the Women’s Petition Committee headed by Ms. Jamsheer. Criminal charges were based on articles No 2/92 and 2/1/365 of the Penal Law. Litigation date will be on 19th of June 2005 in front of Primary First Penal Court.

Furthermore, an older case which was raised by eight of shari'a court judges against a group of journalists and activists including Ghada Jamsheer is still pending.