Last execution when a protectorate of Britain was in 1957. Death penalty for murder; unlawful possession of firearms and explosives; possession of heroin or morphine of more than 15 grams, cocaine of more than 30 grams, cannabis of more than 500 grams, syabu or methamphetamine of more than 50 grams, or opium of more than 1.2 kg

UN condemns Brunei over new law allowing gays to be stoned to death

April 15, 2014

The United Nations has condemned Brunei for adopting a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for same-sex sexual activity.

It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.

However, Brunei, a predominately Muslim state, has now adopted a new penal code that calls for death by stoning for consenting same-sex sexual activity, adultery, rape, extramarital sexual relations, and for declaring oneself to be non-Muslim.

The new penal code will come into effect on 22 April.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offenses contravenes international law,” said Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, insulting any verses of the Quran and Hadith, blasphemy, declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, and murder are the other offences for which the death penalty could be applied under the revised code.

Noting that Brunei has maintained an effective moratorium on the use of the death penalty since 1957, OHCHR urged the government to establish a formal moratorium and to work towards abolishing the practice altogether.

“Under international law, stoning people to death constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is thus clearly prohibited,” Mr Colville stated.

He added that the criminalisation and application of the death penalty for consensual relations between adults in private also violates a whole host of rights, including the rights to privacy, equality, freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention.

Hassanal Bolkiah has been the Sultan of Brunei, head of government and state, since 1967.

Brunei gained independence from the UK in 1984.




Sultan of Brunei Threatens Critics of Sharia Law

march 5, 2014

Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah warned online critics of the country’s Sharia Law that they could face prosecution once the new penal code takes effect next month:

They can no longer be given the liberty to continue with their mockery and if there is a basis for them to be brought to court, then therefore, the 1st phase of the Syariah (criminal) law this coming April will be relevant to them.

The Sultan issued this statement during the 30th National Day celebration after many Brunei netizens reacted negatively to the decision of the government to implement Sharia criminal laws.

Brunei is a Muslim-majority country. It is a monarchy where the Sultan is also the Prime Minister and wields absolute power in the government and in Brunei society. The Sultan is also one of the wealthiest people in the world.

Sharia is currently implemented in the country but it is limited to personal and family issues. But beginning April 1, the scope of Sharia punishments will be expanded to include stoning to death for adultery, cutting of limbs for theft, and flogging for violations such as abortion, alcohol consumption, and homosexuality. There is also capital punishment for rape and sodomy. Brunei is the first East Asian country to implement the Sharia law at the national level.

The Sultan may have been upset by social media comments which criticized the Sharia laws. In his speech, he cautioned his people to be wary of Internet users who are insulting Brunei’s Islamic scholars and leaders of the government:

We must be wise and cautious in reaping its benefits. Otherwise, if we are careless and abuse (this technology), the adverse effects will not just be on the individual but on the nation as a whole.

They are using the new media such as blogs, WhatsApp and so on which are not just accessed by locals but also by those overseas.

Reacting to the sultan’s speech, Sam Zarifi of the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) urged Brunei to respect the dissenting views of its citizens:

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah’s statement illustrates that human rights, particularly respect for freedom of opinion and expression, is widely disregarded by the authorities in Brunei.

Free, unhindered debates on issues like the enactment or implementation of a law are important cornerstones of a democratic society.

Earlier, the ICJ criticized the Sharia penal code for being incompatible with Brunei’s commitment to adhere to various international human rights agreements. In particular, the ICJ is deeply disappointed over the reintroduction of death penalty in the country:

If implemented, the code would lead to serious human rights violations by reintroducing the death penalty and imposing other cruel and inhuman punishment including stoning, even for conduct that should not even be considered criminal.

The 2013 Penal Code also specifies that a manner by which capital punishment is to be imposed for rape, adultery, sodomy and extramarital sexual relations is stoning to death, a particularly horrific form of torture and execution.

Brunei has not carried out the death penalty since 1957.

The ICJ also submitted a letter to the government asking clarification on provisions that they think would restrict free speech:

…we note, however, that provisions of the 2013 Penal Code, penalise both Muslims and non-Muslims for printing, disseminating, importing, broadcasting, and distributing publications “contrary to Hukum Syara” (Articles 213, 214, and 215). We consider that these provisions constitute undue restrictions on religious freedom and violate of the rights of freedom of expression and opinion.

Once the Sharia law takes effect, non-Muslims are prohibited from using 19 words to refer to other religions. These words include “Allah”, “mu’min” (believer) and “masjid” (mosque).

The Malaysian Insider highlighted a comment from a reader who is worried over the strict implementation of the Sharia next month:

It is truly frightening to think that we might potentially be stoned to death for being lovers, that we may be fined for being of a different sexual orientation, and that what we wear will be regulated.

But Professor Najibah Mohd Zin, a female Islamic scholar, believes that the proper implementation of the law would not create social problems:

We need to give proper attention to the implementation. We do not want to see discrepancies; otherwise it’s not going to be just. We want to achieve justice, but if it’s not just then it will be a setback to the Muslim countries.

I think the public should know the law very well. They should learn how it works within the modern context, rather than looking at it from a negative perspective. We don’t implement the law in our time, that’s why we have a lot of social problems.

What the Sultan’s speech revealed is the real danger of using Sharia law not to promote harmony in society but to stifle free expression and open debate in the country.

(source: Global Voice Advocacy)

Brunei’s Shariah-based Penal Code set to take effect, gays risk stoning, execution

In what the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) are calling ‘a step backward’ for human rights, the Sultan of Brunei has announced that a series of laws that were formulated in 2013 are set to be enacted in April, 2014.

The laws, which criminalize everything from adultery to same-sex relations, include punishments ranging from public stonings to execution.

“In an open letter to Prime Minister, H.M. Haji Hassanal Bolkiah, the ICJ also stressed that the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013 is clearly incompatible with international human rights law and standards that prohibit discrimination against women and protect the rights to religious freedom and freedom of opinion and expression.

The law also criminalizes adultery, extramarital sexual relations and consensual same-sex conduct, in contravention of international standards,” reports the ICJ.

Brunei, which is located on the north coast of the island of Borneo in Southeast Asia, is a sovereign nation. And while Islamic, Brunei is considered far more religious than Malaysia and Indonesia, 2 neighboring countries that share many of the same religious and moral codes.

The 2013 Penal Code will re-introduce the death penalty after years of an effective moratorium in the country, and provide for stoning and other forms of torture and ill treatment for a range of ‘misconduct.’ The 2013 Penal Code provides for the death penalty as a possible penalty – for both Muslims and non-Muslims – for the crimes of robbery (Article 63), rape (Article 76), adultery and sodomy (Article 82). It also is prescribed as a penalty – for Muslims only – upon conviction for acts constituting extramarital sexual relations (Article 69),” reports the ICJ.

The NGO hopes to influence the enactment of the laws by stressing its violation of human rights norms that have not only been established but with which Brunei has agreed to abide by as a member of ASEAN, the Association of Southeastern Asian Nations.”The death penalty, in any circumstance, is a form of torture and inhumane treatment, and its reintroduction in the 2013 Penal Code is out of step with the global trend towards the abolition of the death penalty and the establishment of a moratorium on execution.”

(source: LGBT Weekly)