Brunei Asks EU Leaders for 'Tolerance' of Brutal Sharia Law Punishments
Penal code includes violent punishment and death for adultery, theft, homosexual behavior
Brunei has written a letter to leaders of the European Union last week, asking for “tolerance” and “understanding” of their nation's brutal new Sharia Law penal code, which includes violent punishment and the death penalty for adultery, theft, and homosexual behavior.
The four-page document, which was addressed to members of the European Parliament, the nation of Brunei defended its implementation of tough new Sharia criminal law.
The country insists that the punishment of “hadd,” or amputation and stoning to death for offenses such as sodomy and theft, is lawful because it comes directly from Allah.
“There appears to be a misconception as to the application and/or interpretation of the provisions of the SPCO, Syariah Courts Evidence Order, 2001 and Syariah Courts Criminal Procedure Code Order, 2018 which we would like to clarify,” the letter states.
“It must be appreciated that the diversities in culture, traditional and religious values in the world means that there is no one standard that fits all,” the letter reads.
"This necessitates tolerance, respect, understanding and the giving of policy space."
According to the Irish Times, the new penal code, which also provides for amputation in the case of thieves and whipping for people wearing clothes associated with the opposite sex, was brought in on April 3rd, despite international condemnation.
But in a letter to MEPs, the kingdom claims the outcry is due to a misconception that it wanted to clarify.
“The criminalization of adultery and sodomy is to safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage to individual Muslims, particularly women,” the kingdom says.
“The penal sentences of hadd – stoning to death and amputation, imposed for offenses of theft, robbery, adultery, and sodomy – have extremely high evidentiary threshold, requiring no less than two or four men of high moral standing and piety as witnesses – to the exclusion of every form of circumstantial evidence.”
Brunei, a British colony until 1984, said this was “coupled with a very high standard of proof of ‘no doubt at all’ for all aspects, which goes further than the common-law standard of ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.”
Such is the required “standards of piety of the male witness” that the kingdom writes that it is “extremely difficult to find one in this day and age, to the extent that convictions of hadd may solely rest on confessions of the offender.”
Confessions, the kingdom adds, may be retracted.
In regards to whipping, if that is deemed by sharia courts to be the appropriate punishment, the kingdom says this will be administered only by those of the same gender as those convicted.
“The offender must be clothed, whipping must be with moderate force without lifting his hand over his head, shall not result in the laceration of the skin nor the breaking of bones and shall not be inflicted on the face, head, stomach, chest or private parts.”
The letter was sent before a vote last week in which MEPs backed a resolution by a show of hands strongly condemning “the entry into force of the retrograde sharia penal code.”
The parliament also called on the EU to consider asset freezes, visa bans and the blacklisting of nine hotels owned by Brunei Investment Agency, including the Dorchester in London, the Beverly Hills hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles.
Celebrities including Elton John and George Clooney have called for the hotels to be boycotted.
The Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, is one of the world’s richest leaders with a personal wealth of about $20 billion (€17.75 billion).
He has ruled since 1967.
Homosexuality has been illegal since the country broke from British rule, but before the recent move to a more conservative interpretation of Islam, it was punishable by jail.
Britain, France, Germany and the UN are among those who have condemned the hardening of the kingdom’s laws.