Brunei Told New Penal Code Violates Human Rights


Brunei’s push to introduce Sharia law and deliver the extremely wealthy Muslim sultanate into legal territory more akin with Taliban thinking has been ruled incompatible with international human rights law by the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).

The ICJ also described the laws and severe punishments, which will come into force in April, as a backward step, particularly for women who have “more risk of receiving this penalty because they are most likely to be found guilty of adultery or having engaged in extra-marital sexual relations.”

Under the Sharia penal code the tough revised laws criminalizes extra-marital affairs, consensual gay sex and also re-introduces the death penalty by stoning and amputations for thieves, ending a long-standing moratorium.

Brunei announced the re-introduction of the laws in October, shortly after the tiny island state ended its 12-month term as chairman of the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Critics argue the decision was timed to limit international criticism of the archaic medieval laws.

Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has said the Sharia Penal Code would only apply to Muslims and should be regarded as a form of “special guidance” from God.

About two-thirds of Brunei’s 420,000-strong population is Muslim.

Brunei became the first state in East Asia to impose Sharia law, beating even Malaysia which holds dear to its dubious claims of being secular. This will challenge ASEAN and its plans to launch an ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), partially modeled on the European Union, by the end of next year.

In a letter to the Brunei government, the ICJ said the new legislation was not compatible with international human rights law. ICJ’s international adviser Emerlynne Gil told Australian radio the laws were definitely a setback for Brunei and the region, particularly for a country that was on the road to achieving international human rights standards.

“We were very surprised that an ASEAN member is doing this, especially at this point in time, where the ASEAN is trying to demonstrate to the international community that it is able to develop human rights standards,” she said.

The ICJ also noted that many crimes under the code would have a high burden of proof and that Sharia court judges would have discretion over punishments.

Standing Islamic rules in Brunei have traditionally been more sternly enforced than in Malaysia and Indonesia and were imposed largely through the family courts. Its rules include a ban on alcohol and evangelism by other religions.

Luke Hunt can be followed on Twitter at @lukeanthonyhunt.

February 23, 2014 at 18:53

How can it violate human rights? It is only the convicted criminals who will be punished. Every country its convicted offenders, including capital punishments in some countries, including the USA.

February 20, 2014 at 10:33

shariah law is not bout banning the humans right, it’s not bout treating women in an unfair life. it’s not that u can say “I pray I do everything Allah wants me to do, so my body is my body.. I didn’t wear hijab it’s my business.. ” if u r one of those who said like this.. think more, why would u say that syariah law crush womens’ right Cuz have to wear hijab decent clothes etc? why would u say that? think bout it. isn’t covering your hair your body is actually a good sign? isn’t wearing fit clothes no hijab showing ur body to people out there is much more crushing yourself as how prostitute did? syariah law is a law based on quran and sunnah… if u ask what is quran? the ans is it the word of God commandment.. if u say “I do pray I do hajj I do everything that Allah wants me to do” then why is this syariah law become a doubt? it is stated in the Quran u must pray u must this and that do not eat this and that. then yes it is also stated in Quran that women have to cover their aurat. and also guys, don’t forget u also have aurat. if guys ask “why this syariah law so stupid? have to wear pants that passed the knees ” then ask urself again guys.. if u r saying the syariah law stupid thats the same as saying the Quran is stupid and think? as I said earlier quran is actually the word of God commandment.. so who r u referring as stupid here? :) well if I were to be asked why have to wear like that. then i will just say “the way God can think is far more better than us humans the one HE created.. ” :) wake up guys, it’s not that syariah law will just cut people hands without any prove. syariah law also need prove to do an action.

February 15, 2014 at 06:09

I lived and worked in Brunei for a very long time and had a great career there. However, with this I would have quit almost immediately. Frankly, the Sultan does do as he pleases including women and going off to Europe in his self-piloted airbus on massive extravagant shopping-sprees. Bruneians are lovely people to work with and the place is peaceful as they dislike radicals from any religion. This is certainly a big step backwards but as the next in line is a Crown Prince who is not the most intelligent person perhaps The Sultan is concerned about the security of Brunei’;s political future.
To claim this will only affect Muslims is not true – this will affect everyone directly or indirectly in such a small place. Brunei will quickly become the Saudi Arabia of SE Asia. I feel for the indigenous non-muslims who will have to tolerate even more unequal treatment.

February 11, 2014 at 12:56

Prevention is the name of the game. Thats Shariah Law for you. I totally agree with it.

February 15, 2014 at 06:17

Of course you would if you are a man – women are very unfairly treated under Sharia and you know it. Of course, the ruling elite will be able to get away with it.

February 11, 2014 at 12:54

i have no issues with the shariah law. if you are not breaking the laws, why should you be afraid. Heck, if they find a more strict set of laws than the shariah law, go ahead. Pretty sure the people will be more afraid to go against the laws which makes a place more peaceful. Say I want to rob a bank. Then I realize “Oh s***… if i get caught, there goes my arm”. rather than thinking “If i get caught, I can stay in jail a few years, why not”. Prevention is the name of the game.

Time to move
February 9, 2014 at 02:47

Time to move, better life elsewhere

February 8, 2014 at 19:18

Take a look at what the people themselves have to say about this. Read the comments.

Oh! And there’s no freedom of speech there so the comments are constantly being deleted. Ciao!

February 8, 2014 at 02:33

Yes the law IS violating human rights. Even more so when initially it was stated the law only applies to Muslim but now they are saying some parts apply to non-Muslims. And then they are giving talks about how dressing “indecently” will get everyone (Muslims AND non-Muslims) punished according to this shariah law. We are talking about human rights not human safety in reply to the comments below. Rights are about respecting people as humans and not forcing religious beliefs or behaviors on a non-believer. Moreover the law puts women in a more dangerous situation too, especially for rape victims which I am sure everyone has read on the news of how shariah law works.

oh lalaaa
February 8, 2014 at 14:28

Our rights to live our lives are slowly being taken away… and being controlled… sighhh.??

Just a thought
February 7, 2014 at 03:54

The law that was enacted actually does apply to non muslims too in certain circumstances

February 8, 2014 at 03:47

Yes, and that’s y it’s violating human rights even more so by applying it to non-Muslims.

January 31, 2014 at 15:30

If you learn about you will know how does it actually work. For example when one of your family member been killed, or been stabbed. The shariah will also do the same thing to the guilty person. If they stab your both hands, the shariah would do the same thing to you. You see this is just to prevent people to do bad things. Before you assume, or even talk about it, learn and understand first. :) simple as that.

February 5, 2014 at 04:15

Just out of curiosity, does the shariah laws then take into account why a certain crime is committed before the “same” penalty is meted out?

Most religions (irregardless of which one, or which faith), i believe, has the people’s best interests at heart. unfortunately, the world is full of evil, demonic and ignorant m***rs who take these laws and twist it to hurt others with it. For instance, hating on homosexuals and women suffering physical hurt and even death for something they have “supposedly” done. This is the sad truth

February 8, 2014 at 23:09

then what if a girl got raped by a man.. then whos is going to rape back the man?

February 23, 2014 at 18:59

The penalty for rape is not ‘qisas’ (eye for an eye..) but the death penalty. I am sure many women will welcome this penalty.

February 8, 2014 at 23:14

why the non muslim is forced into accepting the syariah law when the real syariah law is only for muslim??

February 15, 2014 at 06:20

Hope you still see it the same way if you are found guilty of a crime and get the same back, especially if you are innocent in the first place.

Ordinary Human being
January 30, 2014 at 20:05

Now they want to talk about human rights??Now they are saying Shariah law violate human rights?? Please get it right,it is Shariah law that actually protects human right when ‘those’ world are actually silently violated human right. The fact is that, if ones does not commit whatever crime that deserve punishment, no one will get punish, no human rights to be violated, instead, human and their rights are actually protected..While Disrespecting this decision of Brunei State IS VIOLATING HUMAN RIGHTS. They should talk about ‘Human Being’ in Rohingya, whose Human Rights is unprotected and violated, or is it just because they’re Muslim (?) that they are treated like ‘Non-Human being’? ‘Where is the LOVE?’ said the BEP..

February 8, 2014 at 14:56

I agree that no law serves to harm. All kinda if law, including shariah law protects people. However, there’s a difference between the original shariah law and the interpreted shariah law. From my opinion, the shariah law that Brunei wants to implement has become too man made. There’s no mention in the original laws about a certain dress code that is deemed decent. It’s all up to human decision. Think about it.

Content world Citizen
January 30, 2014 at 15:26

Please look upon your own countries first and understand the syariah law itself before taking action to criticize on the decision made by the Brunei govenment…you cant criticize blindly before understanding the whole picture of what the law is all about.

February 9, 2014 at 01:17

Thats true. Those who disagree only comment about a few words out of the sentence that makes a clause of law. That is not the way to understand any law and i am sure any law practitioner will agree. Understand the process and intent by understanding the whole syariah law system or seek to understand from professionals. Handpicking of selective quotes/quips from the law dont make you an expert. The law has been long absorbed into our system, its just now outlined more better and intended to be enforced with wisdom.
Even the dress code is acceptable by common sense. Brunei is our house and our house has our own house rules. Unless any of you plan to commit serious crime here, i’ll tell you right now that you should start worrying ang probably should also start packing your bags. On the on the other hand, if you have no ill intent, you shall be amazed on the peace and security of the country known as Brunei Darussalam ‘the abode of peace’.

February 15, 2014 at 06:23

The main problem there is that “offense” in the eye of the witness may not be an “offense” in the eye of another. Shariah Law does not cover every eventuality – it often relies on “eyewitness accounts” which can be unreliable and even fabricated. This certainly works against women more than it does men. This is undeniable.

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