On Wednesday, April 3rd, a brutal new law went into effect in a small Asian country, Brunei, that will use stoning to death as a punishment for homosexual sex and adultery.
Brunei is a small kingdom in southeast Asia where the majority of the religious makeup is Muslim (78 percent). With a population of about 423,000 it is known for its oil-rich land. It is located on the island of Borneo as well as other countries, Malaysia and Indonesia. This monarchy led by the head of state Sultan Hassanal, was the first East Asian country to implement the strict Islamic sharia law. Although a small country, it has raised some concerns with the proposal of the new criminal law, which will allow stoning and amputation for crimes like theft and adultery.
Since the announcement of the harsh laws in 2014, they have been dealt gradually. The newest release, which includes the said law, was announced on the attorney general’s website on December 29th, last year. Due to the inhumane punishments this sparked international interest. Hassanal implemented these teachings in order to push for “stronger” Islamic teachings within the country, which he stated in his public address.
Under the changes to the penal code, the individuals accused to specific acts will be convicted if they confess or if there was a witness. Some of the punishments include, amputation for theft; strokes of the cane for homosexual sex; death penalty for rape, adultery, or for insulting or defamation of the Prophet Muhammad. This law also applies to young Muslims if they are convicted of said offences they will be subjected to whipping.
Once the announcement was made the world was outraged. The United Nations called the legislation “cruel, inhuman and degrading”. This is a major setback to the progress that has been made for human rights protection, but Brunei is not the only country that utilizes such harsh punishments. Countries like Iran, Somalia and Sudan as well as others, continue to use stoning as punishment.
Although the likelihood of enforcement is slim, what is needed now is for governments and multinationals that do business with Brunei to persuade them to bring their laws into compliance with their human rights obligations.