News / Asia

Brunei Begins Phasing In Sharia Law

FILE - Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
FILE - Brunei's Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah.
VOA News
Brunei has begun phasing in a strict form of Islamic law that calls for harsh punishments including flogging, severing of limbs and stoning.


​Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has hailed the new criminal code as a "great achievement" for the Southeast Asian nation of just over 400,000 people.

Under the first phase introduced Thursday, citizens can be fined or jailed for offenses such as indecent behavior or failing to perform Friday prayers.

More severe punishments will be introduced soon. This includes severing of limbs or beatings for theft. It also includes death by stoning for sodomy and adultery.

Brunei Islamic authorities defend the punishments, saying a high degree of proof will be required. They also claim Brunei's mainly Muslim population supports the laws.

Sam Zarifi, regional director of the Asia and Oceania division of the International Commission of Jurists, says public opinion is irrelevant when it comes to such extreme laws.

"In terms of international law and Brunei's obligations, frankly, it doesn't matter," he said. "Brunei has committed itself and international law is very clear that you can't kill people by stoning them. That's just illegal no matter where you are, no matter what the vote is."

"One-man government"

Zarifi tells VOA that Brunei's dictatorial government makes it "essentially impossible" to discern whether the public would support the new code.

"Remember, this is as authoritarian a one-man government as you can get. It has been under a state of emergency for decades. The sultan is the government. There are no other real branches of government," he said.

Many Brunei citizens have taken to social media to criticize and ridicule the new laws. In response, the sultan has threatened to punish them using the criminal code.

The sultan, one of the world's richest men, exercises near complete control over the energy-rich country. He said in a speech Wednesday the new code is "not for fun, but is to obey Allah's command as written in the Quran."

Interpretations of Islamic law vary widely in Muslim-majority countries where it is practiced, as there is no single document in which it is explicitly outlined.

Brunei is the first Southeast Asian country to enforce a sharia-compliant criminal code at the national level.

You May Like

Video On The Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime bombardment, VOA correspondent finds More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid