Brunei becomes first east-Asian country to adopt Sharia

[JURIST] Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah [BBC profile] proclaimed the enactment [press release] of Sharia [CFR backgrounder] in the country on Wednesday. The law will operate alongside [CNN report] Brunei's civil code, which Bolkiah explained to mean that Brunei "will have two criminal justice systems working hand in hand." Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] has condemned the adoption of the religious law [press release], claiming that it will promote "cruel and inhuman punishments" such as stoning, whipping and amputation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights [official website] has also expressed reservations [press release], particularly with the apparent conflict between the laws and international human rights standards. Bolkiah had previously announced [Reuters report] in October that enforcement of Sharia criminal law would begin in April.

Countries around the world have faced controversy in the adoption and prohibition of Sharia. In January Tunisia's parliament rejected Sharia as the main source of law [JURIST report] for the country during the establishment of its new constitution [JURIST op-ed], in spite of intense opposition by the country's Islamic majority. Last August, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory allowed a bill prohibiting North Carolina judges from considering Islamic law [JURIST report] in their decisions to become law. Critics argue that the bill's only purpose is to invoke anti-Muslim sentiments [JURIST op-ed] since the US Constitution already supersedes foreign law. In 2011, Libya adopted Sharia as its basic source of legislation [JURIST report], but with moderation [JURIST op-ed] to reflect Libya's political landscape, cultural norms and religious makeup.

 

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