USCIRF Releases Factsheet on Brunei

Dec 11, 2020

USCIRF Releases Factsheet on Brunei

Washington, DC – The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) released a new report on ongoing religious freedom issues in Brunei:

Brunei Factsheet – This factsheet highlights ongoing religious freedom issues in Brunei, primarily focusing on the Syariah Penal Code Order 2013, which came into effect on April 3, 2019. Although Brunei has had a dual legal system, one religious and one secular, the new penal code blurs the lines between the two. It enforces a hardline interpretation of Islamic law on all Muslims regardless of citizenship. In particular, the penal code increases criminal penalties for blasphemy and makes attending Friday prayers a legal obligation for Muslims. If this penal code is fully enforced in Brunei, it could lead to USCIRF recommending the country’s inclusion on the State Department’s Special Watch List or that the country be designated as a Country of Particular Concern for engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.

In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF mentioned the implementation of Brunei’s new penal code in its Other Key Developments section.


The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze, and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State, and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at