Since 2015, The Brunei Project has been actively raising awareness about human rights issues in Brunei. In 2019, we were at the forefront of drawing international attention to the plans of the Brunei Government to secretly rush through implementation of the final phases of a Sharia Penal Code that included punishments such as death by stoning for those found guilty of adultery or homosexual acts, the amputation of limbs for theft and the death penalty for apostasy (renouncing Islam). Furthermore, children aged over 15 could be subjected to the death penalty, while children as young as seven can be sentenced to whipping. Religious freedom, freedom of expression, women's rights and the rights of the child are all heavily restricted under Brunei's Sharia Penal Code.
Within 24 hours of The Brunei Project alerting its international allies to the Brunei's Government plans, every major media organisation was reporting on it, while foreign governments began considering the imposition of sanctions on Brunei. The relentless pressure that was subsequently placed on the Brunei Government forced Brunei's Sultan to concede that the country was implementing these laws and then to eventually take a back step by announcing that the country would be extending its longstanding de facto moratorium on the use of the death penalty to also include punishments under Sharia law. Such was the secrecy surrounding these laws that most Bruneians were themselves unaware of the Government's intentions until the Sultan's announcement just four days prior to implementation.
Although the international backlash against Brunei quickly dissipated, Bruneians continue to be at risk from the laws implemented as part of the Sharia Penal Code and from longstanding human rights violations. As the only organisation with a specific focus on human rights in Brunei, the work of The Brunei Project is now more important than ever. A key focus of our efforts is the development of local human rights advocates by providing them with opportunities to participate in regional and international capacity-building projects that they can implement on the ground in Brunei. To date, we have self-funded all of our projects and initiatives but we can no longer do this alone so are seeking your help so that we may continue our work.