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Amnesty International urges Brunei to withdraw new penal code

Travellers to Brunei might want to think twice after Amnesty International called on the country to halt plans to introduce “vicious” new punishments such as death by stoning for same-sex acts.

Also set to be introduced next week is amputation for robbery.

Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Amnesty International Brunei Researcher, said: “Brunei must immediately halt its plans to implement these vicious punishments and revise its penal code in compliance with its human rights obligations.

“The international community must urgently condemn Brunei’s move to put these cruel penalties into practice.

“Some of the potential ‘offences’ should not even be deemed crimes at all, including consensual sex between adults of the same gender.”

Pending provisions in Brunei’s penal code would allow stoning and amputation as punishments – including for children.

These punishments are included in newly-implemented sections of the Brunei Darussalam Syariah Penal Code, due to come into force on April 3rd, according to a discreet notice which appeared on the attorney general’s website.

Amnesty expressed grave concerns over changes to the penal code when they were proposed in 2014.

Under international human rights law, corporal punishment in all its forms, such as stoning, amputation or whipping, constitutes torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment, which is prohibited in all circumstances.

Brunei has signed but not yet ratified the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

While Brunei retains the death penalty in law, it is abolitionist in practice.

One new death sentence was imposed in 2017, for a drug-related offence.

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