The ongoing implementation of a new Sharia penal code, and the state Grand Mufti advocating death for apostasy and blasphemy, have prompted international criticism of this Islamic monarchy.
Brunei adopted a new Sharia penal code in 2013. The new penal code has been deeply damaging toward the right to freedom of thought in the country and contains a range of provisions that restrict the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, and freedom of expression. They include harsh penalties for not performing Friday prayers or observing Ramadan and expanded restrictions on the rights of individuals hold or speak freely about certain beliefs.
Articles 213, 214 and 215 of the revised penal code criminalize printing, disseminating, importing, broadcasting, and distributing of publications deemed contrary to Sharia. Non-Muslims are forbidden to refer to ‘Allah’ as their God (some Bruneian Christians do use ‘Allah’ where in English Christians say ‘God’).
Future phases of the law are planned to include more severe penalties, including the death penalty for blasphemy, mocking the Prophet Muhammad or verses of the Quran and Hadith, or declaring oneself a prophet or a non-Muslim. Apostates are liable to lose all rights to the property they own and to custody of their children.
In 2014, the State Mufti, Yang Berhormat PehinUdana Khatib Datu Seri Maharaja Dato Seri Setia Ustaz Hj Abdul AzizJuned, declared apostasy an offence punishable by death for any Muslims who choose to disassociate themselves from the faith. The State Mufti said that those who had made blasphemous statements or performed sacrilegious actions and had not repented would be liable for a death sentence.