Death Penalty Database

Brunei

Information current as of: April 1, 2011

General

Official Country Name

Brunei Darussalam (Brunei). [1]

Geographical Region

Asia (South-eastern Asia). [2]

Death Penalty Law Status

Abolitionist de facto. No known executions have occurred in Brunei since 1957. [3]

Methods of Execution

Hanging. [4]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Brunei, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2700.htm, Jun. 14, 2010.
[2] U.N., World Macro Regions and Components, U.N. Doc. ST/ESA/STAT/SER.R/29, 2000.
[3] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[4] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 33, sec. 245,Warrant on Execution of a Sentence of Death, Laws of Brunei Ch. 7,Rev. Ed. 2001.

Country Details

Language(s)

Malay, English. Malay is the official language, and all laws or anything required by law to be published are published in Malay and an official English translation. The Malay text prevails in cases of conflict. [1]

Population

406,200. 406,200. [2]

Number of Individuals Currently Under Sentence of Death

Possibly 4.

The number of death-sentenced prisoners in Brunei, where there have been no executions since 1957, [3] is unknown, but there are likely to be few individuals under sentence of death. Four Malaysian nationals were reportedly sentenced to death in 2001 and 2003. [4] Amnesty International reported at least one additional death sentence in 2006. [5] At least one death sentence was commuted in 2009. [6] We have found no reports of new death sentences since then. [7]

(This question was last updated on October 7, 2015.)

Annual Number of Reported Executions

Executions in 2017 to date (last updated on December 6, 2017)

0. [8]

Executions in 2016

0. [9]

Per capita execution rate in 2016

Executions in 2015

0. [10]

Per capita execution rate in 2015

0 executions.

Executions in 2014

0. [11]

Per capita execution rate in 2014

0 executions

Executions in 2013

0. [12]

Per capita execution rate in 2013

0 executions

Executions in 2012

0. [13]

Per capita execution rate in 2012

0 executions

Executions in 2011

0. [14]

Per capita execution rate in 2011

0 executions

Executions in 2010

0. [15]

Executions in 2009

0. [16]

Executions in 2008

0. [17]

Executions in 2007

0. [18]

Year of Last Known Execution

1957. [19]

References

[1] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, art. 82, Rev. Ed. 2008.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, Background Note: Brunei, http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2700.htm, Jun. 14, 2010.
[3] U.N. Economic and Social Council, Capital punishment and implementation of the safeguards guaranteeing protection of the rights of those facing the death penalty: Report of the Secretary General, p. 65, U.N. Doc. E/2015/49, Apr. 13, 2015.
[4] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, Jan. 19, 2013.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty Statistics 2006, ACT 50/012/2007, April 2007.
[6] Joel Guinto, Brunei Sultan Commutes OFW Death Penalty, Inquirer Global Nation, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090130-186451/Brunei-sultan-commutes-OFW-death-penalty, Jan. 30, 2009.
[7] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014. DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 29, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, pp. 22-23, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009. Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[8] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[9] Amnesty International, Death sentences and executions in 2016, ACT 50/5740/2017, Apr. 11, 2017.
[10] DPW Executions and Death Sentences Monitor.
[11] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2014, ACT 50/001/2015, Mar. 31, 2015.
[12] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2013, ACT 50/001/2014, Mar. 26, 2014.
[13] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2012, ACT 50/001/2012, Apr. 9, 2013.
[14] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2011, ACT 50/001/2012, http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT50/001/2012/en, Mar. 27, 2012.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2010, p. 5, ACT 50/001/2011, Mar. 28, 2011.
[16] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2009, p. 29, ACT 50/001/2010, Mar. 30, 2010.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2008, pp. 22-23, ACT 50/003/2009, Mar. 24, 2009.
[18] Amnesty Intl., Death Sentences and Executions in 2007, p. 6, ACT 50/001/2008, Apr. 15, 2008.
[19] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.

Crimes and Offenders Punishable By Death

Crimes Punishable by Death

Murder.
“Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death.” [1]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
Abetting the suicide of a person unable to give legal consent is punishable by death. [2] All participants in a gang robbery during which a murder takes place “shall be punished by death.” [3] Arson resulting in death “shall be punished with death.” [4]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.

Laws penalizing attacks using fire or explosion could be applied to terrorism resulting in death. Such offenses when resulting in death “shall be punished with death.” [5]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Persons in unlawful possession of weapons in security areas or “special” areas, or accompanying those who unlawfully possess weapons in security areas, are punished with death. [6]

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Arson of certain public utilities “shall be punished…with death.” [7]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping “shall be punished by death” when carried out with the intent of murdering the victim or putting the victim in danger of murder. [8]

Drug Trafficking Resulting in Death.
Unauthorized trafficking, manufacture, import or export or possession for the purpose of trafficking of requisite quantities of scheduled drugs is punished by death. A person accused of possession for the purpose of trafficking is presumed guilty. By law, an individual can be accused of possession for the purposes of trafficking for simply possessing the keys to premises on which drugs are found; that individual has the burden to prove that he did not possess the drugs, know of the drugs or possess them for trafficking. [9]

Drug Possession.
A person accused of possession for the purpose of trafficking is presumed guilty of that offense. By law, an individual can be accused of possession for the purposes of trafficking for simply possessing the keys to premises on which drugs are found; that individual has the burden to prove that he did not possess the drugs, know of the drugs or possess them for trafficking. The punishment is death when the offender is in possession of requisite quantities of scheduled drugs. [10]

Treason.
High treason is punishable by death. [11]

Military Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Abetting a successful mutiny is punishable by death. [12]

Other Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
Perjury resulting in the conviction of an innocent defendant of a capital offense is punishable by death. [13]

Comments.
We did not find the complete military law.

Does the country have a mandatory death penalty?

Yes. A review of cases on drug trafficking and murder [14] reveals that the Brunei High Court does apply the mandatory language of Brunei’s statutes to pronounce mandatory death sentences upon defendants. [15] It should be noted that under the Criminal Procedure Code, the trial judge is required to submit to the Sultan a report explaining why a death sentence should or should not be imposed, and may be required to advise the Privy Council on the subject of mercy. [16] While this still constitutes a mandatory death penalty by international standards (because the judge, ultimately, lacks the power to exercise independent discretion), no one has been executed since 1957. [17]

For Which Offenses, If Any, Is a Mandatory Death Sentence Imposed?

Murder.
“Whoever commits murder shall be punished with death.” [18]

Other Offenses Resulting in Death.
All participants in a gang robbery during which a murder takes place “shall be punished by death.” [19] Arson resulting in death “shall be punished with death.” [20]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Resulting in Death.
Laws penalizing attacks using fire or explosion could be applied to terrorism resulting in death. Such offenses when resulting in death “shall be punished with death.” [21]

Terrorism-Related Offenses Not Resulting in Death.
The statutory penalty for persons in unlawful possession of weapons in security areas or “special” areas, or accompanying those who unlawfully possess weapons in security areas is death. [22]

Arson Not Resulting in Death.
Arson to certain public utilities “shall be punished…with death.” [23]

Kidnapping Not Resulting in Death.
Kidnapping “shall be punished by death” when carried out with the intent of murdering the victim or putting the victim in danger of murder. [24]

Drug Trafficking Not Resulting in Death.
The statutory penalty for unauthorized trafficking, manufacture, import or export or possession for the purpose of trafficking of requisite quantities of scheduled drugs is death. A person accused of possession for the purpose of trafficking is presumed guilty. By law, an individual can be accused of possession for the purposes of trafficking for simply possessing the keys to premises on which drugs are found; that individual has the burden to prove that he did not possess the drugs, know of the drugs or possess them for trafficking. [25]

Drug Possession.
A person accused of possession for the purpose of trafficking is presumed guilty of that offense. By law, an individual can be accused of possession for the purposes of trafficking for simply possessing the keys to premises on which drugs are found; that individual has the burden to prove that he did not possess the drugs, know of the drugs or possess them for trafficking. The statutory punishment is death when the offender is in possession of requisite quantities of scheduled drugs. [26]

Crimes For Which Individuals Have Been Executed Since January 2008:

Comments: No known executions have occurred in Brunei since 1957. [27]

Categories of Offenders Excluded From the Death Penalty:

Individuals Below Age 18 At Time of Crime.
A person who commits a capital offense while under the age of 18 is detained at the pleasure of the Sultan. [28]

Pregnant Women.
Pregnant women face a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, and a lighter sentence may be passed when possible. [29]

Intellectually Disabled.
Individuals suffering from “abnormality of mind” including “arrested or retarded development” substantially impairing mental responsibility are not to face capital charges such as for murder—they can be convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. [30]

Mentally Ill.
Persons under sentence of death cannot be executed if it is shown that they are “mentally disordered or mentally defective.” [31] Individuals suffering from “abnormality of mind” substantially impairing mental responsibility are not to face capital charges such as for murder—they can be convicted of culpable homicide not amounting to murder. [32]

References

[1] Brunei Penal Code, art. 302, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[2] Brunei Penal Code, art. 305, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[3] Brunei Penal Code, art. 396, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[4] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(a), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[5] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(a), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[6] Brunei Internal Security Act, arts. 40-41, Rev. Ed. 2008; Brunei Public Order Act, art. 28, Laws of Brunei Ch. 133, Rev. Ed. 2002.
[7] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(b), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[8] Brunei Penal Code, art. 364, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[9] Brunei Misuse of Drugs, arts. 3-5, 15-16, Second Schedule, Laws of Brunei Ch. 27, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[10] Brunei Misuse of Drugs, arts. 3A, 15-16, Second Schedule, Laws of Brunei Ch. 27, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[11] Brunei Penal Code, art. 121, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[12] Brunei Penal Code, art. 132, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[13] Brunei Penal Code, art. 194, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[14] Website of Commonwealth Legal Information Institute at http://www.commonlii.org/form/search1.html?mask=bn/cases/BNHC, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[15] For example: Cheong You Hwa v. Public Prosecutor, Criminal Appeal No. 2 of 1994, May 26, 1994 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for trafficking in drugs over a specified amount); Public Prosecutor v. Kamaludden Bin Hj Md Daud, Criminal Trial No. 14 of 1997, Nov. 20, 1997 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for murder and felony murder). These rulings suggest that Brunei courts read mandatory language strictly.
[16] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 244, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[17] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[18] Brunei Penal Code, art. 302, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[19] Brunei Penal Code, art. 396, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[20] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(a), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[21] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(a), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[22] Brunei Internal Security Act, arts. 40-41, Rev. Ed. 2008; Brunei Public Order Act, art. 28, Laws of Brunei Ch. 133, Rev. Ed. 2002.
[23] Brunei Penal Code, art. 435(1)(b), No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[24] Brunei Penal Code, art. 364, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[25] Brunei Misuse of Drugs, arts. 3-5, 15-16, Second Schedule, Laws of Brunei Ch. 27, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[26] Brunei Misuse of Drugs, arts. 3A, 15-16, Second Schedule, Laws of Brunei Ch. 27, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[27] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[28] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 238, Laws of Brunei Ch. 7, Rev. Ed. 2001; Status, Declarations and Reservations, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010. Brunei made some general reservations to the CRC based on consistency with Brunei’s Constitution and Islamic law; however, Brunei’s domestic law is consistent with the CRC at least regarding the exclusion of juveniles from the death penalty.
[29] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 246, Laws of Brunei Ch. 7, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[30] Brunei Penal Code, art. 303, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001
[31] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 247, Laws of Brunei Ch. 7, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[32] Brunei Penal Code, art. 303, No. 16 of 1951, Laws of Brunei Ch. 22, Rev. Ed. 2001.

International Commitments

ICCPR

Party?

No. [1]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [2]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

First Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Recognizing Jurisdiction of the Human Rights Committee

Party?

No. [3]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [4]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

Second Optional Protocol to the ICCPR, Toward the Abolition of the Death Penalty

Party?

No. [5]

Date of Accession

Not Applicable.

Signed?

No. [6]

Date of Signature

Not Applicable.

American Convention on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Death Penalty Protocol to the ACHR

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR)

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Protocol to the ACHPR on the Rights of Women in Africa

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

Arab Charter on Human Rights

Party?

Not Applicable.

Date of Accession

Signed?

Not Applicable.

Date of Signature

2016 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [7]

Vote

Against. [8]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes.

2014 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [9]

Vote

Against. [10]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [11]

2012 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [12]

Vote

Against. [13]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [14]

2010 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [15]

Vote

Against. [16]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [17]

2008 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [18]

Vote

Against. [19]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [20]

2007 Record of Votes on the UN General Assembly Moratorium Resolution

Cosponsor

No. [21]

Vote

Against. [22]

Signed the Note Verbale of Dissociation

Yes. [23]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[2] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[3] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[4] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-5&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[5] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[6] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, Second Optional Prot. to the ICCPR, Aiming at the Abolition of the Death Penalty, 1642 U.N.T.S. 414, Dec. 15, 1989, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-12&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[7] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[8] U.N.G.A., 71st Session, Promotion and protection of human rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 54-71 U.N. Doc. A/71/484/Add.2, Dec. 6, 2016.
[9] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 141, 144, U.N. Doc. A/69/488/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2014.
[10] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, 73rd Plenary Meeting, pp. 17-18, U.N. Doc. A/69/PV.73, Dec. 18, 2014.
[11] U.N.G.A., 69th Session, Note Verbale dated 28 July 2015, U.N. Doc. A/69/993, Jul. 29, 2015.
[12] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, paras. 95-96, U.N. Doc. A/67/457/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2012.
[13] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, 60th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/67/PV.60, Dec. 20, 2012.
[14] U.N.G.A., 67th Session, Note Verbale dated 16 April 2013, U.N. Doc. A/67/841, Apr. 23, 2013.
[15] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, includng alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, p. 5, U.N. Doc. A/65/456/Add.2, Dec. 8, 2010.
[16] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, 71st Plenary Meeting, pp. 18-19, U.N. Doc. A/65/PV.71, Dec. 21, 2010.
[17] U.N.G.A., 65th Session, Note Verbale dated 11 March 2011, U.N. Doc. A/65/779, Mar. 11, 2011.
[18] U.N.G.A., 63rd session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, U.N. Doc. A/63/430/Add.2, Dec. 4, 2008.
[19] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, 70th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16-17, U.N. Doc. A/63/PV.70, Dec. 18, 2008.
[20] U.N.G.A., 63rd Session, Note Verbale dated 10 February 2009, U.N. Doc. A/63/716, Feb. 12, 2009.
[21] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Promotion and Protection of Human Rights: human rights questions, including alternative approaches for improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, pp. 3-4, U.N. Doc. A/62/439/Add.2, Dec. 5, 2007.
[22] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, 76th Plenary Meeting, pp. 16- 17, U.N. Doc. A/62/PV.76, Dec. 18, 2007.
[23] U.N.G.A., 62nd Session, Note Verbale dated 11 January 2008, U.N. Doc. A/62/658, Feb. 2, 2008.

Death Penalty In Law

Does the country’s constitution make reference to capital punishment?

The Constitution of Brunei Darussalam makes no reference to fundamental rights of any nature and prohibits judicial review. [1] However, capital punishment is referenced twice in Constitutional Matters I and Constitutional Matters II, Succession and Regency Proclamation of 1959. Specifically, it states that any person who has been sentenced to death, imprisonment or a fine of $1,000 or more shall not be qualified to be a Member of the Legislative Council. [2] Additionally, should an Heir of the Sultan conspire or attempt to do any act against another lawful Heir with the attempt that he may be in a better position to succeed to the throne, he may be found guilty of an offense punishable by death, imprisonment or a fine. [3]

Does the country’s constitution make reference to international law?

The Constitution of Brunei Darussalam makes no reference to fundamental rights of any nature and prohibits judicial review. [4]

Have there been any significant changes in the application of the death penalty over the last several years?

No known executions have occurred in Brunei since 1957. [5] This is despite the retention of the mandatory death penalty for offenses such as murder and drug trafficking [6] and current reports that individuals continue to be sentenced to death or face capital prosecution in Brunei for murder or drug crimes. [7]

Is there currently an official moratorium on executions within the country?

While no executions have occurred in Brunei since 1957, [8] constituting a de facto moratorium, there is no official moratorium on executions in Brunei. [9]

Have there been any significant published cases concerning the death penalty in national courts?

We did not find any opinions of Brunei courts significantly altering application of the death penalty in Brunei. We did find some cases elucidating whether Brunei awards death sentences or death sentences in a mandatory fashion—it does. [10] We were unable to access cases that were published after 1997.

Where can one locate or access judicial decisions regarding the death penalty?

A web resource for Brunei court decisions is available at http://www.commonlii.org/bn/cases/BNHC/. We did not find any cases currently posted at the judiciary’s website, http://www.judicial.gov.bn/.

What is the clemency process?

In any case where the death penalty is pronounced, the trial judge submits a report to the Sultan describing why the sentence should or should not be executed. The Sultan has the constitutional power to grant an unconditional pardon, grant pardon with lawful conditions, grant reprieve, remit a sentence in part, or stay a sentence. Prior to 2004, the Privy Council, considering the advice of the Attorney General and, at times, the trial judge, advised the Sultan on whether to exercise his prerogative of mercy. [11] Between 2004 and 2006, this function was performed by a constitutionally created Pardons Board; in 2006 the relevant portion of the 2004 amendment was repealed, shifting the responsibility to advise the Sultan back to the Privy Council. [12] The 2008 edition of the Constitution published on the Attorney General’s website does not re-introduce the role of the Attorney General; we do not know whether this is an omission. [13]

Are jury trials provided for defendants charged with capital offenses?

No. [14]

Brief Description of Appellate Process

Judicial review is prohibited; appeals may not be based on the judicial review of official actions or laws. [15] Although the appellate procedure rules did not fully set forth the appellate proces, [16] our review of case law shows that capital cases are tried in the High Court and appealed to the Court of Appeal. [17] Sentencing cannot be challenged in most capital cases, which involve the mandatory death penalty, and courts lack the power to review the propriety of a mandatory penalty. [18]

References

[1] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, part XI, art. 84(C), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[2] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, part VI, art. 30(c), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[3] Constitutional Matters II, Succession and Regency Proclamation, 1959, part II, art. 10(3), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[4] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, part XI, art. 84(C), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[5] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[6] For example: Cheong You Hwa v. Public Prosecutor, Criminal Appeal No. 2 of 1994, May 26, 1994 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for trafficking in drugs over a specified amount); Public Prosecutor v. Kamaludden Bin Hj Md Daud, Criminal Trial No. 14 of 1997, Nov. 20, 1997 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for murder and felony murder). These rulings suggest that Brunei courts read mandatory language strictly without restricting their reading to norms consistent with human rights protections.
[7] Joel Guinto, Brunei Sultan Commutes OFW Death Penalty, Inquirer Global Nation, http://globalnation.inquirer.net/news/breakingnews/view/20090130-186451/Brunei-sultan-commutes-OFW-death-penalty, Jan. 30, 2009; Quratul-Ain Bandial & Bandar Seri Begawan, 3 Face Death Penalty for Drug Trafficking, The Brunei Times, http://www.bt.com.bn/news-national/2010/08/24/3-face-death-penalty-drug-trafficking, Aug. 24, 2010.
[8] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.
[9] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Brunei Darussalam, para. 90(14), U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/14, Jan. 4, 2010.
[10] For example: Cheong You Hwa v. Public Prosecutor, Criminal Appeal No. 2 of 1994, May 26, 1994 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for trafficking in drugs over a specified amount); Public Prosecutor v. Kamaludden Bin Hj Md Daud, Criminal Trial No. 14 of 1997, Nov. 20, 1997 (showing that the death penalty is mandatory for murder and felony murder). These rulings suggest that Brunei courts read mandatory language strictly without restricting their reading to norms consistent with human rights protections.
[11] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, arts. 5(5)(a), 6, 9, Rev. Ed. 1984.
[12] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, arts. 6, 8(A), 9, Rev. Ed. 2008. This annotated Constitution explains the amendments and repeals.
[13] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, arts. 5(5)(a), 6, 9, Rev. Ed. 1984; Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, arts. 6, 9, Rev. Ed. 2008; Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, arts. 244, 268, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[14] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[15] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, art. 84(C), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[16] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code: Criminal Appeal Rules, Law S 19/92, Rev. Ed. Jul. 15, 2002.
[17] Website of Commonwealth Legal Information Institute at http://www.commonlii.org/form/search1.html?mask=bn/cases/BNHC, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010; Public Prosecutor v. Kamaludden Bin Hj Md Daud, Criminal Trial No. 14 of 1997, Nov. 20, 1997 (a trial decision of the High Court); Cheong You Hwa v. Public Prosecutor, Criminal Appeal No. 2 of 1994, May 26, 1994 (a capital appeal in which the Court of Appeal declined to consider the propriety of a mandatory sentence)
[18] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code: Criminal Appeal Rules, Law S 19/92, Rev. Ed. Jul. 15, 2002.

Death Penalty In Practice

Where Are Death-Sentenced Prisoners incarcerated?

If any prisoners are held under sentence of death, they are held in Jerudong Prison, which houses individuals convicted of serious offenses. [1]

Description of Prison Conditions

Reportedly, international human rights monitors have not visited Brunei prisons recently, although they are permitted to do so; consular and family access is permitted. Brunei’s prisons were filled below capacity and generally met international standards. [2]

Are there any known foreign nationals currently under sentence of death?

Possibly. [3]

What are the nationalities of the known foreign nationals on death row?

Mark Warren reports that Malaysians may be held under sentence of death in Brunei. [4]

Are there any known women currently under sentence of death?

We found no reports of women held under sentence of death in Brunei.

Are there any reports of individuals currently under sentence of death who may have been under the age of 18 at the time the crime was committed?

We found no reports of individuals held under sentence of death for crimes committed while under the age of 18; Brunei’s law and international treaty commitments prohibit this practice. [5]

Comments regarding the racial/ethnic composition on death row

We found no reports on racial or ethnic disparities on death row.

Are there lawyers available for indigent defendants facing capital trials?

While we did not find the supporting law, Brunei reportedly utilizes English common law safeguards and fully extends the right to defense counsel except to individuals facing charges under the Internal Security Act. [6]

Are there lawyers available for indigent prisoners on appeal?

While we did not find the supporting law, Brunei reportedly utilizes English common law safeguards and fully extends the right to defense counsel except to individuals facing charges under the Internal Security Act. [7]

Comments on Quality of Legal Representation

Individuals facing charges under the Internal Security Act may receive limited representation. [8]

Other Comments on Criminal Justice System

Brunei reportedly utilizes English common law safeguards, except that individuals detained under the Internal Security Act are denied the right to counsel and are not presumed innocent. [9] Despite reports that Brunei otherwise presumes the accused innocent, [10] a fair reading of the drug laws show that individuals accused of possessing requisite quantities of drugs are presumed to be engaged in drug trafficking, a potentially capital offense. [11] The U.S. Department of State reports that the judiciary is “independent” despite a lack of legal guarantees of independence. [12] While we found no reports that the executive interferes with judicial affairs, it is also true that the judiciary is not empowered to engage in judicial review of laws or actions of the Sultanate and is limited in its actions to the administration of laws. [13] Despite the lack of judicial independence and the nearly universal mandatory death penalty for capital offenses, the Sultanate seeks the advice of the judiciary in capital matters [14] and has not approved a death sentence since 1957. [15]

References

[1] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading or Other Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010; Brunei Prison Department, http://www.prisons.gov.bn/, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[2] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading or Other Treatment or Punishment, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[3] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[4] Mark Warren, Foreigners Under Sentence of Death Worldwide, http://users.xplornet.com/~mwarren/world.html, May 7, 2010.
[5] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 238, Rev. Ed. 2001; Status, Declarations and Reservations, 1577 U.N.T.S. 3, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-11&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010. Brunei made some general reservations to the CRC based on consistency with Brunei’s Constitution and Islamic law; however, Brunei’s domestic law is consistent with the CRC at least regarding the exclusion of juveniles from the death penalty.
[6] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[7] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[8] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[9] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[10] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[11] Brunei Misuse of Drugs, arts. 3A, 15-16, Second Schedule, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[12] U.S. Dept. of State, 2009 Human Rights Report: Brunei, Denial of Fair Public Trial, http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/hrrpt/2009/eap/135986.htm, Mar. 11, 2010.
[13] Constitution of Brunei Darussalam, art. 84(C), Rev. Ed. 2008.
[14] Brunei Criminal Procedure Code, art. 244, Rev. Ed. 2001.
[15] Amnesty Intl., Death Penalty: Countries Abolitionist in Practice, http://www.amnesty.org/en/death-penalty/countries-abolitionist-in-practice, last accessed Oct. 6, 2010.

Decisions of International Human Rights Bodies

Decisions of Human Rights Committee

Because Brunei is not a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee does not issue Concluding Observations on periodic review or decisions on petitions filed regarding human rights in Brunei. [1]

Decisions of Other Human Rights Bodies

In 2009, members of the Human Rights Council pursuant to its Universal Periodic Review of human rights in Brunei recommended that Brunei consider ratifying core international human rights treaties; Brunei favored such recommendations. Brunei did not accept recommendations that it institute an official moratorium on the death penalty or officially abolish the death penalty. [2]

References

[1] Status, Declarations, and Reservations, ICCPR, 999 U.N.T.S. 171, Dec. 16, 1966, http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-4&chapter=4&lang=en, last accessed Oct. 7, 2010.
[2] U.N.G.A., Human Rights Council, Report of the Working Group on the Universal Periodic Review: Brunei Darussalam, paras. 89-91, U.N. Doc. A/HRC/13/14, Jan. 4, 2010. It should be noted that, despite rejecting some recommendations, Brunei has not applied the death penalty since 1957. Id. at para. 34.

Additional Sources and Contacts

Direct member(s) of World Coalition Against the Death Penalty

None.

Other non-governmental organizations and individuals engaged in advocacy surrounding the death penalty

Reprieve
PO Box 72054
London EC3P 3BZ
United Kingdom
Tel 020 7553 8140
Fax 020 7553 8189
info@reprieve.org.uk
http://www.reprieve.org.uk

Helpful Reports and Publications

None.

Additional notes regarding this country

None.

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