Bandar Seri Begawan (Agenzia Fides) - The new Penal Code based on the "Sharia" (Islamic law) which came into force in these days in Brunei, includes archaic sanctions such as flogging and stoning to death, some applicable to non-Muslims. As Fides learns, the new Code, which will be introduced in three phases over the next two years, received criticism inside and outside the country.
In a letter sent to the Sultan of Brunei, Hassanal Bolkiah, and shared with Fides Agency, the International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) said that the new Penal Code violates international standards on human rights. The jurists criticize the sanctions imposed that "constitute torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading sentences" and denounce the violation of rights such as freedom of religion, opinion and expression. In Brunei the same Muslim faithful, who face harsh penalties for crimes such as robbery and adultery, express concerns, especially on social media. Who commits apostasy faces death penalty.
Some of the new measures affect even non–Muslims: this is why it is forbidden to use 19 Islamic words, including "Allah", and there are penalties for printing, distribution, import and distribution of publications "contrary to Islamic doctrine". To criticize or despise Islam is punishable by death or 30 years in prison and 40 lashes.
In Brunei 30% of the population is composed of non-Islamic minorities. The Christians of different denominations are, on the whole, about 13%. The Catholic Church in the small sultanate has an Apostolic Vicariate parish with three churches, three priests and about 20 thousand Catholics. (PA) (Agenzia Fides 12/04/2014)