Four human rights organizations – ASEAN SOGIE Caucus (ASC), the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ), the Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) – submitted Thursday, 11 April 2019, a joint letter to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR) expressing concern about the Brunei Darussalam’s 2013 Syariah Penal Code, provisions of which entered into force on 3 April 2019.
“The 2013 Syariah Penal Code violates international human rights law and standards. Its provisions also conflict with the commitment made by Brunei Darussalam as a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to promote and protect human rights in the region, including those enshrined in the ASEAN Charter and the ASEAN Community Vision 2025,” states the letter.
Among those provisions are the imposition of the death penalty and stoning to death, punishments that constitute torture and other ill-treatment, criminalization of consensual sexual relations, undue limitations on the right to freedom of religion or belief, and the right to freedom of opinion and expression.
In view of the grave concerns raised, the four signatories appealed to AICHR to take some concrete actions including the conduct of consultations with the relevant national authorities in Brunei Darussalam on the promotion and protection of human rights in the country and issue “an immediate statement expressing concern about the situation and calling for the protection of human rights” in Brunei Darussalam.
Following is the full text of the letter:Brunei-AICHR-Letter