Brutality of Brunei's law reforms called out by solicitors' leaders

Office holders at the Law Society of England and Wales have written to the Sultan of Brunei urging him to reverse changes to his country's penal code which introduce stoning for LGBT people and a raft of other measures at odds with international human rights law.

The adoption of the new penal code paves the way for executions by stoning for people engaging in consensual same-sex acts. Sentences include stoning for adultery and whipping for children. In a letter to the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, office holders of the Law Society, led by president Christina Blacklaws, argue “this is a clear violation of established international human rights law.

“It contravenes the principle of non-discrimination, the right to freedom of expression, the right to freedom from torture and ill-treatment, and the right to life.”

The move has led to a global boycott, with businesses such as Deutsche Bank, Virgin Australia and STA Travel severing links with the regime.

“Brunei should immediately suspend the application of this code. It must amend its provisions to be in accordance with international human rights standards.

“People around the world have the right to live in a jurisdiction which protects their rights. Legislation that violates fundamental rights has no place in any country which wishes to belong to the international community of nations.”

The letter has been signed by Christina Blacklaws, president, Simon Davis, vice president, and David Greene, deputy vice president, on behalf of the Law Society of England & Wales, which represents 180,000 solicitors.

Notes to editors

On Wednesday 3rd April 2019, several reforms to the country's penal code came into effect, which has been based on Islamic Shariah law since 2014.

Read the letter from the Law Society office holders (PDF 131 KB)

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