BRUSSELS: The European Union condemned Brunei's new laws on Wednesday (Apr 3), saying some of the "cruel" punishments now permitted under a Syariah penal code amount to torture and breach international human rights agreements.
The legislation introduced in the tiny sultanate, which includes death by stoning for adultery and gay sex, as well as amputation of hands and feet for thieves, has triggered a storm of global criticism from politicians, celebrities and rights groups.
"Some of the punishments foreseen in the criminal code amount to torture, acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment," an EU spokesperson said in a statement.
The statement said the punishments breached the UN convention against torture, which Brunei signed up to in 2015.
"It is critical that the government of Brunei-Darussalam ensures that the implementation of the Penal Code Order does not infringe on human rights and is fully consistent with all international and regional human rights commitments and obligations undertaken by Brunei-Darussalam," the statement said, adding that the EU expected Brunei to maintain its de facto moratorium on executions.
The laws make Brunei the first place in East or Southeast Asia to have a Syariah penal code at the national level, joining several mostly Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia.
The decision to push ahead with the punishments after years of delays has sparked alarm, with the UN labelling them "cruel and inhumane" and celebrities led by actor George Clooney and pop star Elton John calling for a boycott of Brunei-owned hotels.