UN Human Rights Council adopts Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam

On 19th September 2014, The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a press release of the universal periodic review of several countries including Brunei Darussalam. The Human Rights Council adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam as follows:

Consideration of Outcome of Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam

ABU SUFIAN BIN HAJI ALI, Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in opening remarks, said Brunei Darussalam attached importance to the Universal Periodic Review and its role to improve human rights in Member States. The Government of His Majesty remained people' centred in all aspects. Brunei Darussalam had received 189 recommendations that had been considered through extensive interagency consultations. Brunei Darussalam had accepted 97 recommendations, including those already in practice or implemented. It partially supported 14 recommendations and was unable to accept 78 recommendations that were against its Constitution.

Brunei Darussalam had submitted reports to the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It was considering ratifying the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities and the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. Brunei Darussalam maintained reservations expressed to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Committee on the Rights of the Child. It said procedures were available for children of women citizens married to foreign nationals to be accorded Brunei citizenship. It highlighted that women contributed actively to the decision-making processes in the country, reaching senior professions, as a result of Brunei Darussalam's policy to give them equal access to education. The rights of women were protected through legislation such as the Islamic Family Law Act, the Married Women Act and the Women and Girls Protection Act. It thanked delegations participating in Brunei Darussalam's review and welcomed comments from delegations.

Singapore noted the large number of recommendations Brunei Darussalam had accepted and said it would continue to work closely with the Government on the implementation of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations Charter for Human Rights. Sri Lanka was encouraged that education and health remained priorities, and by the inclusion of development policies in the national plan for the environment. Sudan thanked Brunei Darussalam for accepting the recommendation made by Sudan and wished it all the best in the pursuance of human rights. Thailand welcomed the acceptance by Brunei Darussalam of the recommendations pertaining to the situation of the rights of women and urged the Council to adopt its outcome document. United States appreciated the commitment to protecting the rights of children and women and achieving gender equality and said that meaningful progress needed to be made in the legislation and policies concerning the freedom of expression and association. Uzbekistan noted the participation of Brunei in the Universal Periodic Review process and believed that the implementation of the recommendations would strengthen the national system of protection of human rights.

Venezuela said this review had shed light on achievements in the area of human rights for the people of Brunei Darussalam. Its open participation in the process was proof of its commitment to the human rights of its people and it was wished success in implementing the recommendations made during this cycle. Viet Nam said that Brunei’s thorough and responsible consideration of the Universal Periodic Review recommendations strongly confirmed its commitment to continue its endeavours in the promotion and protection of human rights. Viet Nam strongly recommended the adoption of the report of Brunei. Algeria welcomed that Brunei Darussalam had accepted most of the recommendations, including a recommendation by Algeria on ensuring the effective participation of women in the decision-making process in the country. Brunei was encouraged to continue its efforts in promoting and protecting human rights. Bahrain applauded Brunei Darussalam’s efforts to continue protecting vulnerable groups. It welcomed what was announced by the delegation and its readiness to consider all recommendations presented during the review. It was hoped that recommendations presented by Bahrain were also accepted and would be implemented.

Belarus welcomed the significant progress made by Brunei Darussalam in the field of education, health and women’s rights, as well as in combating human trafficking. Belarus wished Brunei Darussalam every success in implementing the new recommendations and recommended the adoption of the report. Bhutan took note of the additional 14 recommendations which Brunei Darussalam had accepted after further consultations. It recommended the adoption of the Universal Periodic Review outcome report of Brunei Darussalam and wished it every success in implementing accepted recommendations. Cambodia was encouraged by steps taken towards the promotion and protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of Brunei Darussalam’s people. Cambodia commended efforts to enhance the welfare of the people, addressing the core issues of education, food and shelter, and welcomed the acceptance of its two recommendations.

China welcomed the constructive participation of Brunei Darussalam in the Universal Periodic Review process, and its acceptance of China’s recommendations to increase access to education and provide assistance to disabled women. Cuba welcomed that Brunei Darussalam had accepted a high number of recommendations, including those made by Cuba. Djibouti welcomed progress achieved in the area of economic, social and cultural rights and development in Brunei Darussalam. India commended the achievement of Brunei Darussalam for the realisation of the Millennium Development Goals and access to health. It was encouraging to note that Brunei Darussalam had accepted many recommendations, including the one made by India to ratify the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

British Humanist Association said that Brunei Darussalam accepted, during its first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review, the recommendation to put its domestic legislation in line with international human rights law, which it had unfortunately failed to do. Brunei Darussalam’s courts had set legal precedents that could be interpreted to allow corporal punishment for children and marital rape in practice. International Humanist and Ethical Union said that the Sharia penal code of Brunei Darussalam threatened the right to freedom of expression as well as women’s rights. Marital rape was legal. Children were considered criminally responsible at the age of 7. It deeply regret that Brunei Darussalam had rejected recommendations to suspend the code. Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative was concerned that the implementation of recommendations would not be possible with a comprehensive review of Brunei Darussalam’s legislation. Current legislation on freedom of expression was not in line with international standards, and there were disproportionate restrictions on the activities of journalists and on freedom of association. The situation of sexual minorities was also not compatible with international human rights law.

Amnesty International said concerns had been raised with regard to revisions to the Penal Code as its provisions violated key human rights. It was disappointed that all recommendations to ratify the Convention against Torture had been rejected. Laws introduced also discriminated against women and girls. Verein Verein Sudwind Entwicklungspolitik expressed concern that like many other countries, Brunei Darussalam also held back until the last minute to express the State’s views on recommendations received, which left very little chance for the non-governmental organizations to prepare their interventions and objections.

ABU SUFIAN HAJI ALI, Permanent Representative of Brunei Darussalam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, in concluding remarks said that Brunei Darussalam remained committed to the promotion and protection of human rights. Although its review ended today, its efforts did not. It would continue to work towards the betterment of human rights and face the challenges ahead. It reaffirmed its commitment to exchange views and experiences towards the fulfilment of the promotion and protection of human rights. As a small State of 400,000 people, Brunei Darussalam had limited human resources and would welcome any capacity building assistance.

Out 189 recommendations received, 97 were supported and the rest had been noted.

The Council then adopted the outcome of the Universal Periodic Review of Brunei Darussalam.
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