(BBC) Brunei’s foreign ministry has said implementing Sharia law is about prevention rather than punishment, after intense criticism of its decision to implement the strict Islamic code.
Under the new laws, adultery and sex between men is punishable by stoning to death.
Brunei said there would be a high threshold for evidence in those cases, suggesting punishment would be rare.
It comes after the UN called the punishments “cruel and inhuman”.
What did Brunei say?
Brunei has sent a response from Erywan Yusof, the minister of foreign affairs, to the United Nation’s (UN) criticism saying Sharia law “focuses more on prevention than punishment. Its aim is to educate, deter, rehabilitate and nurture rather than to punish”.
It also said Sharia does not criminalise based on sexual orientation or belief, including same-sex relations.
The criminalisation of “adultery and sodomy is to safeguard the sanctity of family lineage and marriage of individual Muslims, particularly women,” according to the statement.
The statement also clarified that for the maximum punishments of amputation or death to be carried out in the case of certain crimes, at least two men of “high moral standing and piety” would have to bear witness.
It added that these men would have to live up to “extremely high” standards, making it “(extremely) difficult to find one in this day and age.”
UK Foreign Minister Jeremy Hunt also said on Thursday he had spoken to the Bruneian foreign minister who had suggested that Sharia prosecutions were, in practice, unlikely.