WASHINGTON DC: The United States on Tuesday criticized Brunei’s decision to implement Islamic laws that would allow death by stoning for adultery and homosexuality and urged it to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
“Brunei’s decision to implement Phases Two and Three of the Sharia Penal Code and associated penalties runs counter to its international human rights obligations, including with respect to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in a statement.
Brunei, a Muslim-majority former British protectorate with a population of around 400,000, will implement the Sharia laws from Wednesday, punishing sodomy, adultery and rape with the death penalty, including by stoning, and theft with amputation.
Oscar-winning actor George Clooney has called for a boycott of luxury hotels owned by Brunei, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, because of the country’s plans to impose the punishments.
Actor George Clooney calls for boycott of Brunei-owned hotels
“We continue to encourage Brunei to ratify and implement the United Nations Convention Against Torture, which it signed in 2015, and to sign, ratify, and implement the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” Palladino said.
The European Union condemned Brunei's new laws saying some of the "cruel" punishments now permitted under a sharia penal code amount to torture and breach international human rights agreements.
The legislation introduced in the tiny sultanate, which includes death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, as well as amputation of hands and feet for thieves, has triggered a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups.
"Some of the punishments foreseen in the criminal code amount to torture, acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," an EU spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement said the punishments breached the UN convention against torture, which Brunei signed up to in 2015.
Brunei to impose death by stoning for gay sex and adultery
"It is critical that the government of Brunei-Darussalam ensures that the implementation of the Penal Code Order does not infringe on human rights and is fully consistent with all international and regional human rights commitments and obligations undertaken by Brunei-Darussalam," the statement said, adding that the EU expected Brunei to maintain its de facto moratorium on executions.
The laws make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a sharia penal code at the national level, joining several mostly Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The decision to push ahead with the punishments after years of delays has sparked alarm, with the UN labelling them "cruel and inhumane" and celebrities led by actor George Clooney and pop star Elton John calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels.