An examination of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of Brunei Darussalam across two cycles (2009, 2014) reveals concerns for:
The official recognition of Islam at the expense of other religions;
Discriminatory practices that disadvantaged the full enjoyment of Freedom of Religion or Belief (FoRB) by minority groups;
The impact of the Syariah Penal Code of 2013 on FoRB; and
Reservations under international treaties that may affect FoRB, notably reservations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Key UPR Recommendations on FoRB
The following recommendations were made on FoRB across two cycles:
Ensure that the Syariah Penal Code of 2013 did not violate the right to FoRB;
Lifting of bans on importation of religious materials of other religions;
Elimination of restrictions on the construction of new religious facilities for non-Shafi’i Muslims; and
Withdrawal of reservations to the CRC that negatively impacted children’s rights.
Follow-up Action for Parliamentarians
Whereas the Government of Brunei Darussalam promoted its guarantees on FoRB, Parliamentarians must follow-up in order to:
Ensure full compliance with international standards on FoRB;
Lift restrictions on importing religious materials essential to the FoRB of religious minorities;
Ensure that Syariah laws do not negatively impact FoRB; and
End discriminatory practices against non-Muslims.