Women's Petition Committee has given another role of chance for the Sharia Court System, the Ministry of Justice and the government to prove their real intention towards reform of the current Justice system and to implement his majesty the King’s vision towards the overall reform in Political, Economic, Social and Legal system in the Kingdom, besides to implement the United Nation recommendation for the necessity of issuing Family Law.

However, Women Petition Committee noticed that the situation and rulings of the Sharia Courts has deteriorated and worsened. Epecially, since seven Sharia judges were dismissed from the practice because they were unqualified. Moreover, the situation of Execution Courts became worse. Also, the government backed away from pressing for issuing of Family Law which was supposed to be passed during the first parliamentary period.

1. Justice Global

The government did not appoint Sharia judges (Sunni and Shia) based on their competency, nor professional carrier, but on judge’s personal or his family support for the government. This led to the domination of families on the Sharia Court System.

Al Mubarak family represented by brothers; Judge Hameed Al Mubarak and Judge Ali Al Mubarak. Al Asfoor family represented by Judge Naser Al Asfoor, nephew of Judges Hameed & Judge Ali Al Mubarak and son of Ahmed Khalaf Al Asfoor (member of Superior Court Council, Ex Sharia Judge & member of Higher Council for Islamic affairs).

The pro-government Al Madani family, represented by his son Judge Mohamed Taher Al Madani (who is also a member of Higher Council for Islamic affairs); Judge Salah Al Sitri, Judge A.Nabi Abbas Al Jidhafsi, Judge Zakaria Al Sadadi.

All the judges were appointed based on their loyalty for the government and not for competency or the benefit of women and family.

In the Sunni Sharia Court System, judges were either ordinary Staff (became judges) or appointed because of the influence of their political groups.

Judge Yasser Al Mahmeed (member and creator of Al Asala Islamic Association) who has participated in a political seminar in Al Doy Majlis in Muhrraq town on 9th of September 2006. Judge Abdullah Faris Al Khalifa and Judge Faisal Al Ghareer were appointed due to their association with (Salafi Extremist group). Judge Hamad Fadahle Al Dosri was appointed for being a member of Al Ekhwan group (brotherhood) while Judge Abdul Rahman Derar Al Shaer is a member of Shura Association that is headed by Abdul Rahman Abdul Salam, the General Director of Higher Consultative Council.

The Sunni Higher Sharia Court consists of 3 judges, meets 3 times a week for couple of hours and looks into maximum 4 cases. Judge Adnan Al Gattan, also president of Hajj Panel, Head of Al Sanabil Orphans Panel, Imam of Al Fateh Mosque, and Sharia editor for Marriages Contracts. He devotes the majority of his time for solving Hajj issues and has no time and rarely shows up in the Court to follow up his primary role as a judge on the Higher Sharia Court. Judge Essa Bu Bushait who is in his 80s, spends all his time and effort conducting Marriage Contracts instead of looking into court cases. The government should retire him instead of appointing him to sensitive position in Higher Sharia Court.

After this presentation, does the Ministry of Justice really support the King’s reform program for the development of Bahraini society? And how can a society develop with judges appointed by political motives which is against Bahrain Constitution and Legal System Legislation.

2. Ministry of Justice under the Role of Mohammed Ali Al Sitri

The nephew of the late Sharia Court Judge Salman Al Madani, a loyal to Al Madani Group has spent and wasted huge funds on Internal Design of his office instead of spending these funds on improvement of technical support of the justice system. Women's Petition Committee did not find any improvement in the Justice System. The Minster failed his previous role to administer Ministry of Agriculture and Municipality. He did not withdraw marriage license booklet from judges, has not implemented the "Grant Scheme for Children and Divorced Women", and has not improved the execution court. All what he did was to subscribe the ministry of justice to huge numbers of Al Meethaq Newspaper which is owned by his brother Mohammed Hassan Al Sitri.

Women's Petition Committee acknowledges that this minister will not facilitate the development of women to reach her full potential.

3. Family Law

Religious groups and the government are to be blamed for not passing the family law. The Government could have passed the family law if it wanted to. The government is using family law card to black mail religious groups against women rights.

Is it fair and just to deprive more than half of Bahrain’s population (women) from legal protection, despite United Nations’ recommendation to Bahrain to issue Family Law.

The government with the support of pro-government MPs passed harshest laws, including Political Association Law, Lawful Gathering Law and finally passed Terrorism Law in 15 minutes in the Appointed Consultative Council.

4. Sharia Judges and Women

Women's Petition Committee noted that Sharia Court Rulings are falling back compared to the beginning of the WPC push for improvement of Sharia courts. Judges who were dismissed were replaced with new ones belonging to the same school of ideology; following same path benefiting men over women. Due to lack of Family Law, no accountability for judge’s ruling and using different Islamic ideology schools as basis for ruling. Fair ruling is falling back because Sharia judges were appointed as political gifts to religious pro-government groups who are against women rights. Favouritism of mankind, women continuously suffer losing custody of their kids for false and punitive reasons. Such as, working in a mix work place, husband collaborating with vice squad to falsely accuse the wife or due to nationality of the husband. Child Support Rulings provided very small amount; Sharia Judge making it very difficult for women to get divorce.

Women's Petition Committee raises a request to the government to suspend the Minister of Justice from his position and repair and upgrade the Sharia Courts and issue the Family Law.

People should be granted the right to choose between Sharia or Civil courts based on people’s right in belief according to UN Human Rights Charter.

In conclusion we state "Judges Appointment Based on Political Criteria".

Women's Petition Committee 1st November 2006- Kingdom of Bahrain