International legal bodies have condemned the Sultanate of Brunei's adoption of a new sharia-based penal code which includes punishment by amputation and stoning. The Commonwealth Lawyers Association said it is appalled by reports of the decision to implement the death penalty by stoning for adultery and homosexual acts by consenting adults.
The association noted that Brunei has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment since 1957 but that the new code will revive the death penalty and permit laws that are contrary to well established human rights norms. 'This is a regressive step on the part of the government of Brunei that cannot escape unequivocal and unreserved condemnation.'
As a member of the Commonwealth, the Sultanate of Brunei is committed to uphold the Commonwealth Charter and to comply with international human rights laws.
The International Bar Association's Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) also spoke out. Co-chair The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG, said: ‘It is a horror story that contemporary rulers are even considering restoration of these shocking punishments in today’s world of the internet, science, the global response to disease and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. It is an affront to universal human rights involving “cruel, unusual and degrading treatment and punishment”. The civilised world will not be silent in the face of these reports from Brunei.’
The IBAHRI said that it opposes the criminalisation of homosexuality and laws that impose penalties for consensual, adult, private sexual conduct. 'Laws that criminalise and impose penalties for consensual sexual conduct between members of the same sex infringe the human rights of LGBTI+ communities and violate their rights to equality, non-discrimination and human dignity,' the statement said.