Brunei: Severe Sharia Law Punishments Including Death by Stoning and Amputation Now in Force in the Sultanate
Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah. (Photo Credits: File)

Bangkok, April 3: The sultanate of Brunei on Wednesday brought into force severe punishments under a new penal code based on sharia or Islamic law, including death by stoning or amputation applied to crimes such as theft, sodomy or adultery. The reform of the penal code, which was first officially announced on Saturday by Sultan and Prime Minister Hassanal Bolkiah, does not appear in any of the media of the small Southeast Asian nation, reports Efe news. The new laws include death by stoning for sodomy and adultery, amputation of the hand or foot for theft, and whipping for sexual intimacy between women among others.

The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said this week that the implementation of these laws "would mark a serious setback for human rights protections for the people of Brunei". Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for Asia Phil Robertson said: "This kind of law doesn't belong in the 21st century. (It) will turn Brunei into a human rights pariah." George Clooney Bats for LGBT Rights; Calls for Hotel Boycott over Brunei’s New Law to Stone Gays to Death.

The 72-year-old Sultan, famed for his opulent lifestyle, said the measure will maintain peace and order and aims to "educate, respect, and protect the legitimate rights of all individuals, society or nationality of any faiths and race". The oil-rich sultanate began to introduce punishments based on Islamic law in 2014, with the first roll-out of amendments to less harsh sentences.

But an international boycott campaign against the sultanate's business network, including a chain of luxury hotels in the US and Europe, led to a temporary suspension of the introduction of stricter penalties and capital punishment that had been set for the end of 2016.