BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN, Brunei – Brunei has embraced a form of Islamic Shariah criminal law that includes harsh penalties, a move slammed by international rights group as a step backward for human rights.
The tiny Southeast Asian nation began Thursday to phase in a version of Shariah that allows for penalties such as amputation for theft and stoning for adultery. Most of the punishments can be applied to non-Muslims, who account for about one-third of the 440,000 people in the oil-rich country.
Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah has said the introduction of the law was "not for fun but is to obey Allah's command" and called it a "great achievement" for Brunei.
Human Rights Watch condemned the move as an "authoritarian move toward brutal medieval punishments that have no place in the modern, 21st century world."