Canada quiet on shariah law in Brunei

The age-old problem of balancing human rights with trade interests, whether it be China, Saudi Arabia or Brunei:

Critics say Canada is turning a blind eye toward the enactment of shariah law by Brunei, a small Southeast Asian country that the Harper governments trade strategy has prioritized.

Brunei announced its decision to adopt a shariah-based penal code in the fall of 2013, and began to phase in the new legal system gradually in May of this year. Citizens of Brunei are currently subject to fines and imprisonment for a range of “indecent acts,” including pregnancy out of wedlock and failure to attend Friday prayers.

The government in Bandar Seri Begawan is expected to phase in tougher, corporal punishments in 2015, including floggings for consuming alcohol and amputations for theft. A third phase establishing stoning as an acceptable form of execution for rape, adultery, and homosexuality is planned, but Brunei’s Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, has yet to declare when the third phase will be introduced.

Brunei’s shift towards shariah law has become a cause célèbre for LGBT groups, human rights activists, and high-profile celebrities who have launched a boycott of the Dorchester luxury hotel chain, which is owned by the Brunei government’s investment agency.

The International Commission of Jurists has called the new laws “clearly incompatible with international human rights law,” while Amnesty International has said the decision will send the small, oil-rich Southeast Asian country “back to the dark ages when it comes to human rights.”

“It constitutes an authoritarian move towards brutal medieval punishments that have no place in the modern, 21st century world,” Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, wrote in an email to Embassy.

Canada quiet on shariah law in Brunei | Embassy – Canadas Foreign Policy Newspaper.