UN agencies urge Brunei to repeal new ‘extreme and unjustified’ penal code

UN Photo/Paulo Filgueiras A view of Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei.

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


New criminal laws in Brunei that impose the death penalty for same-sex relationships, adultery and childbirth out of marriage, “breach international human rights norms”, and should be suspended or repealed said the heads of two United Nations agencies on Thursday.

Underscoring that every person has the right to be “free from torture” and “cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment”, UNAIDS, the agency dedicated to tackling the virus, and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA), the sexual and reproductive health agency, warned the new penal code, which came into force in the south-east Asian monarchy on Wednesday, “will have a significant negative impact on overall health and well-being” there.

“These extreme and unjustified punishments will drive people underground and out of reach of life-saving HIV treatment and prevention services,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS.

The discriminatory laws further punish sexual orientation, same sex relations and reproductive health care. They will disproportionately impact women and create barriers to accessing health information and services, the agencies said.

Mr. Sidibé “strongly” urged Brunei to “suspend or repeal the amendments to the Shariah Penal Code”, which are based on an extreme interpretation of Islamic law, offering UNAIDS’ support to “ensure that laws are grounded in human rights, based on evidence and protect the most vulnerable”.

Further criminalizing same-sex activities not only negatively impacts public health, but also increases stigma and gives license to discrimination, violence and harassment, they added.

“Every person, without any distinction on any grounds, has an equal right to live free from violence, persecution, discrimination and stigma of any kind”, stated UNFPA Executive Director Natalia Kanem.

The UN agencies cited evidence showing that criminalized communities are more vulnerable to violence, less likely to access necessary HIV and other health services, and less able to protect themselves against HIV infection.

Moreover, they pointed out that criminalizing minorities also works against reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), designed and agreed by 193 Member States, to leave no-one behind.

“Human rights are universal”, reminded Ms. Kanem. “Cultural, religious and moral practices and beliefs, and social attitudes must not be invoked to justify human rights violations against any group regardless of gender or sexual orientation”.

Last December, Brunei called for improved data on key affected and higher-risk populations for greater outreach and better health-care provisions. The UN agencies criticized that Syariah Penal Code would undermine this endeavour.

A dangerous trend

Both UNAIDS and UNFPA expressed concern over increasing conservative and discriminatory policies in a number of countries that risk violence, stigma and discrimination against people on the basis of gender, gender identity and sexual orientation.

The noted that recent discussions with Governments in the Asia–Pacific region have highlighted the need to “put evidence-informed and human rights-based laws and policies in place”.

The UN agencies stressed the need to repeal criminal laws against consensual adult sex and decisions on reproduction, adding that health services, including sexual and reproductive health services, must be “accessible, affordable and acceptable”.

UNAIDS and UNFPA supported the calls of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the open letter of the five UN Nations human rights mandate holders to “suspend the implementation of the revised penal code and urge all governments to protect the human rights of all people”.

International outcry

The harsh laws include stoning for sodomy and adultery, limb amputation for theft and public flogging for abortion also criminalizes exposing Muslim children to any religion other than Islam.

High-profile celebrities such as George Clooney, Ellen DeGeneres and Elton John, have called for a boycott of Brunei-owned luxury hotels, including the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles and the Dorchester in London.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

This is how rice is hurting the planet

These countries have the most powerful passports

Paid paternity leave should be the norm in the US

Countries violate rights over climate change, argue youth activists in landmark UN complaint

Budget MEPs back €1.6 million to help 400 former workers of Carrefour Belgium

A new Europe for people, planet and prosperity for all

Ramped-up emergency preparedness, part of ‘changing the DNA’ of the UN’s health agency

Dramatic drop in South Sudan political violence since peace agreement signing

LGBTQ+: The invisible poor on our healthcare

The West and Russia took what they wanted from Ukraine

Zhua Zhou: Choosing The Future

Afghanistan: UN envoy urges further extension of ceasefire with Taliban, as Eid ul-Fitr gets underway

We have to fight for a fairer tech industry for women

Access to health in the developping world

War of words in Davos over Eurozone’s inflation/deflation

Secretary-General condemns attacks on UN peacekeepers in Mali

Replacement for United States on Human Rights Council to be elected ‘as soon as possible’

After music and TV, where will the streaming revolution take us next?

UN chief ‘following very closely’ reports of chemical weapons use in Syria’s Aleppo

Built by a woman: supporting the dreams of mum entrepreneurs

I accidentally went viral on TikTok. I learned we failed our youngest generation.

South African women’s fury at gender-based attacks spills onto the streets

UN sees progress in fight against tobacco, warns more action needed to help people quit deadly product

UN, global health agencies sound alarm on drug-resistant infections; new recommendations to reduce ‘staggering number’ of future deaths

An economist explains how to value the internet

This start-up is making a palm oil alternative from used coffee grounds

Joris in Indonesia

Here’s how tech is revolutionising transport for low-income communities in urban Africa

Algorithms are being used to convict criminals and decide jail time. We need to make sure they are fair

A record one million Syrians displaced over six months, during six key battles: UN investigators

IMF: The global economy keeps growing except Eurozone

1 in 13 young British people have PTSD. Here’s why

UN mission welcomes Afghan government’s announcement of Eid holiday ceasefire

Colombia: ‘Significant strides’ towards integrated peace, UN envoy tells Security Council

UN migration agency launches $10 million appeal to support hurricane recovery in The Bahamas

Millions of Bangladeshi children at risk from climate crisis, warns UNICEF

Merkel refuses to consider the North-South schism of Eurozone

Trump fines China with $50 billion a year plus some more…

E-commerce is globalization’s shot at equality

Restoring government control across Central African Republic is ‘key’ to lasting peace, stability – UN envoy

It’s time to ditch our obsession with trade deficits. Here’s why

From Policy to Reality: Discrepancies in Universal Health Care Systems across the EU

4 steps towards wiping out cervical cancer

EU budget: Commission helps prepare new Cohesion programmes with Regional Competitiveness Index and Eurobarometer

The world invested almost $2 trillion in energy last year. These 3 charts show where it went

A Sting Exclusive: “China-Africa Cooperation Sets a Fine Example of South-South Cooperation”, by China’s Ambassador to EU

Growth is running out of steam. How do we prepare for the next crisis?

“There are many converging visions and interests between the One Belt One Road initiative and the Juncker Investment Plan”, Ambassador Yang of the Chinese Mission to EU highlights from Brussels

Greece leaves EU aid program, gets last 15 billion euro

Air pollution: How to end the deaths of 7 million people per year?

‘Stronger’ effort must be made to cement peace deal for South Sudanese women and girls: UN Women chief

The EU Parliament sidesteps the real issues about banks, while the US target the Eurozone lenders

“Beating pollution for our planet”, a Sting Exclusive by Mr Erik Solheim, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment

Zimbabwe ‘facing worst hunger crisis in a decade’

First peaceful transfer of power in DR Congo ‘an extraordinary opportunity’ for advancing rights

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

The Impact of climates changes in health: a problem for all of us

As conflicts become more complex, ‘mediation is no longer an option; it is a necessity’, UN chief tells Security Council

MARKUP initiative to boost market access to Europe for East African SMEs

5 reasons to be more cheerful about the future of the oceans

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s