People's Stories Justice

Brunei: New penal code breaches international human rights law
by Michelle Bachelet
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
1 April 2019
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has urged the Government of Brunei to halt the entry into force of the revised Penal Code which, if implemented in its current form, would enshrine in legislation cruel and inhuman punishments that seriously breach international human rights law – including death by stoning.
The revisions, due to enter into force on Wednesday, 3 April 2019, stipulate the death penalty for offences such as rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, robbery, and insult or defamation of the Prophet Mohammad, among others.
It introduces public flogging as a punishment for abortion, and amputation for theft. It also criminalises exposing Muslim children to the beliefs and practices of any religion other than Islam.
Brunei currently retains the death penalty in law but the country has been abolitionist in practice, with the last execution carried out in 1957.
“I appeal to the Government to stop the entry into force of this draconian new penal code, which would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei if implemented,” High Commissioner Bachelet said, noting that various UN human rights mechanisms have expressed their concerns about the cruel, inhuman and degrading punishments contained in the Penal Code order.
Bachelet stressed that international human rights laws and standards impose stringent restrictions on the use of the death penalty, which may only be applied to the crime of murder or intentional killing, after a trial that fully meets due process requirements.
“In reality, no judiciary in the world can claim to be mistake-free, and evidence shows that the death penalty is disproportionately applied against people who are already vulnerable, with a high risk of miscarriages of justice. I urge Brunei to maintain its de facto moratorium on the use of capital punishment,” she said.
The provisions of the revised penal code may also encourage violence and discrimination against women, on the basis of sexual orientation, and against religious minorities in Brunei.
“Any religion-based legislation must not violate human rights, including the rights of those belonging to the majority religion as well as of religious minorities and non-believers,” Bachelet said.
“Human rights and faith are not opposing forces – indeed, it is human interpretation that creates tensions. It is vital that the Government, religious authorities and a wide
range of civil society actors work jointly to uphold human dignity and equality for all. My Office stands ready to assist the Government of Brunei, using the constructive approach laid out by the faith-based framework of the Beirut Declaration on ‘Faith for Rights’,” the High Commissioner said.

Visit the related web page

UN condemns attack that leaves over 150 civilians dead in central Mali
by UN News, Unicef
23 Mar. 2019
The United Nations has strongly condemned the armed attack on a village in restive central Mali which reportedly left at least 150 people dead (including 50 children) and dozens wounded early on Saturday.
“We condemn in the strongest terms this unspeakable attack,” said François Delattre, France’s UN Ambassador speaking as President of the UN Security Council at a press conference Saturday evening in the Malian capital, Bamako.
A Council delegation has been in the country since late last week as part of a mission to Africa’s troubled Sahel region. The trip will wrap up tomorrow in Burkina Faso.
Located in Mali’s central Mopti region, the village of Ogossou-Peulh was attacked on Saturday morning, reportedly by armed men dressed as traditional hunters.
Calling the attack an act of “unspeakable barbarity,” Kakou Houadja Leon Adom, the Ambassador of Côte d''Ivoire to the UN and co-organizer with France and Germany of the Council’s Mali visit, expressed condolences to the families of the victims , as well as to the people and the Government.
Meanwhile, a UN spokesperson said Secretary-General António Guterres was “shocked and outraged” by reports that at least 134 civilians, including women and children, were killed and at least 55 had been injured in the attack.
“The Secretary-General condemns this act and calls on the Malian authorities to swiftly investigate it and bring the perpetrators to justice,” according to a statement, which added that the UN chief expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, the Malian people and Government, and wished a speedy recovery to the injured.
In a separate statement condemning the attack, Mahamat Saleh Annadif, the Head of UN integrated mission, MINUSMA, called for an end to the spiral of violence in Mali and reported that as part of the mission’s civilian protection mandate, a rapid response force had been deployed to the scene. The mission was also working to ensure the wounded were evacuated to the nearby town of Sévaré, he added.
“This unspeakable tragedy…unfortunately reminds us that the challenges in central Mali are many,” he said, calling on the Malian authorities to launch an investigation “so that justice is done and the perpetrators of this atrocity answer for their actions.”
UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore noted with alarm the attack on a village in Bankass in Mopti, central Mali, had killed more than 150 people. UNICEF is deeply saddened and outraged that children are among the casualties.
"Many of the injured children have been evacuated to health facilities for treatment. UNICEF is on the ground helping provide first aid, medicines and therapeutic food.
"Mali''s children are paying the highest price for the intensifying violence in central Mali. Since 2017, rising insecurity has led to an increase in the killing, maiming and recruitment of children. Gender-based violence is on the rise.
"Children are also increasingly deprived of education and essential health care as violence is causing schools to close and compromising access to health centers.
"UNICEF urges all parties to put an immediate end to the violence and to keep children out of harm''s way. Children''s right to protection from all forms of violence should be upheld at all times."

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook