Universal Periodic Review – MEDIA BRIEF


Friday, 2 May 2014 (Morning)

(Disclaimer: The following brief is not an official record, provides a brief factual summary of the UPR Working Group meeting with the State under review, and does not cover all points addressed)

State under review

Brunei Darussalam
Represented by 22-member delegation headed by Mr. Pehin Dato Lim Jock SENG, Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade


To access national report, compilation of UN information, and summary of stakeholders’ information, visit the Brunei Darussalam page on the UPR website

Troika *

Morocco, Romania and Saudi Arabia.

Opening statement by State under review

Few points raised in the opening statement of State under review:
(See full statement on the Brunei Darussalam page on the UPR Extranet **)

  • The people of Brunei Darussalam continue to enjoy living in a peaceful and harmonious environment which has been the hallmark of the country’s full independence and will continue to be so as it strived to realise the National Vision by 2035;
  • Education remains one of the top priorities of the Government; nearly 13% of the national budget has been allocated to the education sector.  The Government has further enhanced the provision of free, quality education from early childhood to tertiary-level, equally accessible to boys and girls;
  • Medical health care was provided free for children and less than one U.S. dollar for adult citizens.  Brunei has achieved many of the targets set by the WHO;
  • On adequate housing, major housing development projects have been completed and new ones were being planned to ensure that every family had their own home.  Over the past six decades, more than 19,000 have been built under this scheme;
  • Brunei Darussalam was progressing very well in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, especially in eradicating poverty.  According to the Human Development Report 2013, Brunei ranked 30 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index;
  • A number of measures have been put in place to further ensure the rights of vulnerable groups.  These include the Children & Young Persons Act, which led to the establishment of a juvenile justice system in 2010;
  • Women constituted over half the workforce in Brunei Darussalam, as seen in most government ministries.  Many women have attained high level positions in the public and private sector;
  • Evidence of efforts to promote gender equality includes a 95% literacy rate for girls.  In 2013, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gap Report put Brunei in 6th place in terms of estimated earned income, 12th place in terms of enrolment in tertiary education, and 17th place for wage equality;
  • Under the Constitution, Islam is the official religion of Brunei Darussalam, as such the society revolved around its Malay culture and Islamic faith.  Non-Muslims may practise their religions in peace and harmony per the Constitution;
  • Syariah law has been in existence in Brunei Darussalam since the 14th century.  The country introduced the Syariah Penal Code Order, which will work in parallel with existing law, and will be enforced in phases; the first phase commenced on 1 May 2014;
  • Under its chairmanship of the ASEAN, Brunei Darussalam initiated the implementation of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration adopted in 2012 which was acknowledged as a milestone in ASEAN’s efforts in the promotion and protection of human rights in the region;
  • With regard to child rights, Brunei will be withdrawing reservation to the CRC pertaining to the protection of a child without a family and to the law on adoption.  The Government was also working towards ratifying the OP of the CRC related to children in armed conflict.


In total 78States participated in the dialogue:  30 HRC members and 48 observers  (Statements available on Brunei Darussalam page on the UPR Extranet **)

Positive achievements

Positive achievements noted by delegations included, among others:

  • Progress towards achieving the MDGs; 
  • Measures taken to empower women in society;
  • Efforts made to provide equal education opportunities for all children;
  • Withdrawal of reservation to the CRC and commitment to ratify OPs to the Convention;
  • The adoption of the National Development Plan for 2012-2017;
  • The adoption and implementation of the Brunei Vision 2035.

Issues and Questions

Issues and questions raised by the Working Group included, among others:

  • The implementation of Syariah law in Brunei Darussalam and steps to ensure the Syariah Penal Code Order of 2013 was in compliance with international standards;
  • Steps taken to abolish the death penalty and raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility;
  • Measures ensure the freedoms of religion and expression were in line with international human rights commitment;
  • Efforts to decriminalise same sex activity between consenting adults and uphold LGBT rights;
  • Steps taken to ensure adequate housing, healthcare and education;
  • The Government’s position on ratifying pending international instruments.


States participating in the dialogue posed a series of recommendations to Brunei Darussalam. These pertained to the following issues, among others

  • To ensure the implementation of the Syariah Penal Code Order of 2013 was compliant with international human rights standards and did not lead to imposing the death penalty or torture;
  • To postpone the implementation of the Syariah Code Order 2013 pending a comprehensive review ensuring the Order’s compliance with international standards;
  • To maintain a moratorium on the death penalty with a view to abolishing it; 
  • To raise the minimum age of criminal responsibility; To prohibit life imprisonment for persons under the age of 18; To prohibit the use of corporal punishment;
  • To review or amend legislation which placed restrictions on the right to freedom of expression, in particular the Sedition Act, the Undesirable Publication Act and the Local Newspapers Order; To put an end to censorship of the media; To decriminalize defamation;
  • To ensure domestic legislation on the freedoms of religion and expression was in line with international human rights commitment;
  • To decriminalise same sex activity between consenting adults; To repeal or amend the sections of the Penal Code that prevented LGBT persons from having equal rights;
  • To continue to promote the empowerment of women, particularly their employment and participation in politics and the decision-making process; To lift reservations made to the CEDAW;
  • To pursue efforts to combat human trafficking and enforce the Trafficking and Smuggling Persons Order to hold accountable labour and sex traffickers;
  • To continue efforts to ensure adequate housing, healthcare and education; To continue to promote the right to education for all, particularly the underprivileged and disadvantaged; To strengthen legislation that protected internationally recognized labour rights for all workers;
  • To create a national human rights institution in compliance with the Paris Principles; To extend a standing invitation to the UN Special Procedures; To maintain constructive and cooperative dialogue with the international community in the field of human rights;
  • Ratification of human rights instruments: the ICCPR, the ICESCR, the CERD, the CAT, the Rome Statute on the ICC, the 2nd OP on the ICCPR, ILO Convention 189 (domestic workers), the Convention on enforced disappearances, the 3rd OP to the CRC and the CRPD

Adoption of report of Working Group

The adoption of the report of the UPR Working Group on Brunei Darussalam is scheduled to take place on Thursday, 6 May 2014

*The troikas are a group of three States selected through a drawing of lots who serve as rapporteurs and who are charged with preparing the report of the Working Group on the country review with the involvement of the State under review and assistance from the OHCHR.

** For access to the UPR Extranet, please fill out the following form to receive a username and password

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                       Cédric Sapey, Public Information Officer, OHCHR, + 41(0)22 917 9695, csapey@ohchr.org