The UN Human Rights office criticized Brunei’s planned introduction of the death penalty for a raft of new offences, including declaring yourself a non-Muslim, as part of a shift to harsh Islamic (sharia) punishments in the oil-rich sultanate.
EFI (h/t Allan I) The revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences, including robbery, adultery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammed, and introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for crimes of a sexual nature.
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, which is due to come into force on 22 April.
“We are deeply concerned about the revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam, due to come into force later this month, which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights. “Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law,” he added.
Brunei has not carried out any executions since 1957, but Colville said that rather than adding new capital crimes to its books, the sultanate should be working to abolish the death penalty outright.
Brunei’s all-powerful Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, announced last October that the country would phase in Islamic sharia law punishments such as flogging and death by stoning. The new criminal code, expected to enter into force on April 22, also introduces stoning to death as the specific method of execution for rape, adultery, sodomy and extramarital sexual relations.
Colville said that international law classified stoning as “torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, meaning it is banned under global human rights treaties.
UN studies have shown that women are more likely to be sentenced to death by stoning, due to entrenched discrimination and stereotyping in the justice system, he noted.
Criminalising consensual sex between adults, let alone applying the death penalty for it, breaches a series of rights, while the new code also violates freedom of religion, opinion and expression, Colville added.