Brunei introduces death penalty for declaring oneself a non-Muslim

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque: with stone boat in the lagoon (a replica of a 16th-century mahligai barge).

Geneva (AFP) – The UN human rights office on Friday criticised Brunei’s planned introduction of the death penalty for a raft of new offences, as part of a shift to harsh Islamic punishments in the oil-rich sultanate.

“We are deeply concerned about the revised penal code in Brunei Darussalam, due to come into force later this month, which stipulates the death penalty for numerous offences,” said Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

He told reporters these offences include rape, adultery, sodomy, extramarital sexual relations for Muslims, but also crimes such as robbery and murder.

The death sentence could also be imposed for defamation of the Prophet Mohammed, insulting any verses of the Koran and Hadith, blasphemy, and declaring oneself a prophet or non-Muslim, he said.

“Application of the death penalty for such a broad range of offences contravenes international law,” he added.

Brunei has not carried out any executions since 1957, but Colville said that rather than adding new capital crimes to its books, the sultanate should be working to abolish the death penalty outright.

Brunei’s all-powerful Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, announced last October that the country would phase in Islamic sharia law punishments such as flogging and death by stoning…

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