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On the 3rd of April, Brunei-Darussalam went on with the implementation of its 2013 Penal Code Order. The code foresees punishments such as amputation, public flogging and death by stoning, which should simply have no place in the world.
Also, there is a clear expansion in scope for the potential application of the death penalty. You know our principled, clear and strong position against the death penalty everywhere in the world.
We believe there is no justification for this kind of punishments. No crime justifies an amputation or torture, let alone the death penalty. And no person should be punished for loving someone. That can never be interpreted as a crime.
These punishments – if applied – would constitute a violation of many of the international commitments undertaken by Brunei-Darussalam.
These acts are prohibited by the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which was signed by the country in 2015.
They also go against the 2012 ASEAN [Association of South-East Asian Nations] Human Rights Declaration, and they may also breach Brunei's obligations as a party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
On the very day of the announcement, we reacted, together with many of our international partners, starting with the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet.
We expect the Government of Brunei-Darussalam to make sure that the implementation of the Penal Code Order will not infringe on human rights and will be fully consistent with all international human rights obligations undertaken by the country.
We also expect the country to maintain its de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty.
Let me add that we have been following this issue for years; it is not just a few weeks ago that we have started to react. When the 2013 Penal Code was adopted, we suspended negotiations on a Partnership and Cooperation Agreement with Brunei.
Since then, we have raised the issue in all our meetings with the country’s authorities, and in our Annual Reports on Human Rights and Democracy in the country.
It is now essential to prevent the application of such punishments. To this goal, we will first and foremost continue to put pressure bilaterally on the authorities of Brunei, both directly and through the Member States that are present in the country. The new EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, will work on this.
We will also continue to engage at the UN Human Rights Council, in particular within the ongoing Universal Periodic Review, where Brunei will be reviewed.
And we will raise the issue with our ASEAN partners, since this also represents a violation of a commitment taken by Brunei in the ASEAN framework. And I will have the possibility to do so personally at our next annual EU-ASEAN meeting this August.
The ban on degrading punishments is not simply about European values. I want to underline this point that many of you [Members of the European Parliament] have raised. These are universal values, cherished by people of all backgrounds and of all faiths, all around the world.
These are rights that are not at the disposal of any authority or any country. They belong to all people and no State can take them away.
This is about the dignity of each and every human being, and we will continue, as the European Union, to work for this dignity to be respected everywhere in the world, starting from Europe.
Link to the video: https://audiovisual.ec.europa.eu/en/video/I-170858