Flag of Brunei DarussalamBRUNEI DARUSSALAM

Report updated September 2012

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Child population
124,000 (UNICEF, 2010)

Summary of law reform necessary to achieve full prohibition

Prohibition is still to be achieved in the home, penal system, alternative care settings and possibly schools.

There is no explicit confirmation in the Children and Young Persons Order of a “right” to administer “reasonable punishment” or similar, but article 89 of the Penal Code allows for acts “done in good faith for the benefit of a person under 12 years of age” by guardians or others having lawful charge of the child. The near universal acceptance of corporal punishment in childrearing means that legal provisions against abuse and violence are not interpreted as prohibiting corporal punishment. The law should clearly state that all corporal punishment is unacceptable, and explicit prohibition should be enacted of all forms of corporal punishment, however light.

Discouraging or banning corporal punishment in schools by way of ministerial guidelines falls short of realising children’s right to equal protection from assault in law, and is undermined by widespread acceptance of a certain degree of violence in disciplining children. Explicit prohibition should be enacted in relation to all educational settings, including public and private, full and part time, and including religious institutions.

Children and young people convicted of an offence may be sentenced to whipping under the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and a number of other laws. All relevant provisions in these laws should be repealed, and judicial corporal punishment of children explicitly prohibited. The provisions in the Youthful Offenders (Places of Detention) Rules allowing corporal punishment as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions should also be repealed and replaced with explicit prohibition of corporal punishment as a response to breaches of internal institutional rules.

Explicit prohibition should be enacted of all corporal punishment in all alternative care settings, including public and private day care, residential care, foster care, etc.

Current legality of corporal punishment

Home

Corporal punishment is lawful in the home. Children have limited protection from abuse under the Children Order (2000) and the Constitution (1959, amended 2004), but there is no explicit prohibition of corporal punishment. Article 89 of the Penal Code states that, with certain exceptions, “nothing which is done in good faith for the benefit of a person under 12 years of age ... by or by consent, either express or implied, of the guardian or other person having lawful charge of that person, is an offence by reason of any harm which it may cause, or be intended by the doer to cause, or be known by the doer to be likely to cause, to that person”. Article 28 of the Children and Young Persons Order (2006) punishes child abuse which causes injury, which under article 2 must be “substantial and observable”.

Schools

Corporal punishment appears to be lawful in schools. In 2003, discipline guidelines for teachers which made no reference to corporal punishment were being prepared by the Ministry of Education, to replace the 1984 Book of Discipline. Applicable law includes the Education (Amendment) Order (2006) which amends the Education Order (2003), but we have no further details. During the UPR in 2009, the Government stated that corporal punishment has been prohibited in schools since 1984 (A/HRC/13/14, Report of the Working Group, para. 80), but gave no further details: it appears that this is a matter of policy rather than prohibition in law.

Penal system

Whipping of up to 18 strokes, inflicted in the manner of school discipline, is lawful as a sentence for crime for males aged 7-17 under article 257 of the Criminal Procedure Code, for a wide range of offences under the Penal Code and other laws. The Children and Young Persons Order states that the Juvenile Court is bound by the Criminal Procedure Code, though under article 44 of the Order only the High Court may sentence a child or young person to corporal punishment; article 2 defines a child as under 14 years of age, a young person as aged 14-17. The Children Order (2000) does not include this provision on corporal punishment.

Corporal punishment is lawful as a disciplinary measure in penal institutions. Under sections 51-55 of the Youthful Offenders (Places of Detention) Rules (2001), males under the age of 14 may be given up to 6 strokes with a light cane, older children up to 10 strokes. The medical officer must certify that an inmate is able to sustain the punishment. Section 76 of the Children and Young Persons Order permits the use of “such force as is reasonable and necessary” in order to “ensure good order and discipline” in approved schools, approved homes, remand homes and places of detention.

Alternative care

There is no prohibition of corporal punishment in other institutions and forms of childcare. Children have limited protection under the Children Order and the Constitution (see above).

Prevalence research

None identified.

Recommendations by human rights treaty bodies

Committee on the Rights of the Child

“The Committee is concerned that corporal punishment is not prohibited at home, in schools or institutions and remains acceptable in the society. The Committee also notes that the new book of discipline for schools does not specifically prohibit corporal punishment nor does it even refer to it as a form of discipline.

“The Committee strongly recommends that the State party prohibit corporal punishment at home, in schools and institutions and undertake education campaigns to educate families on alternative forms of discipline.

“The Committee notes the adoption of the Children’s Order 2000 and welcomes the special unit of the police established in 1997 to deal with child victims of abuse and violence, but remains concerned that there is insufficient information and awareness in the State party of the ill-treatment and abuse of children within the family and institutions.

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

b) take legislative measures to prohibit all forms of physical and mental violence, including corporal punishment and sexual abuse of children, in the family and in institutions;

c) carry out public education campaigns about the negative consequences of ill-treatment of children, and promote positive, non-violent forms of discipline as an alternative to corporal punishment….

“The Committee is concerned that the minimum age of criminal responsibility is set at 7 years, which is far too low. The Committee is further concerned that there is no juvenile justice system although it is foreseen in law, that children are detained with adults and that whipping is used as a form of punishment for boys.

“The Committee recommends that the State party:

g) abolish the sentence of whipping for boys….”

(27 October 2003, CRC/C/15/Add.219, Concluding observations on initial report, paras. 37, 38, 43, 44 (b and c), 55 and 56 (g))

Universal Periodic Review

Brunei Darussalam was examined in the first cycle of the Universal Periodic Review in 2009 (session 6). The following recommendations were made and were accepted by the Government (A/HRC/13/14, Report of the Working Group, paras. 89(18) and 89(19):

“Specifically prohibit corporal punishment at home and in schools and undertake appropriate campaigns to educate families on alternative forms of discipline (Germany);

“Prohibit corporal punishment at home and in schools and sensitize families in this respect (Italy)”

However, the Government rejected the following recommendations (A/HRC/13/14, Report of the Working Group, paras. 90(15) and 90(18)):

“Abolish the death penalty definitively and commute all such sentences to periods of imprisonment; and put an end to caning and flogging (Spain)…

“Specifically prohibit corporal punishment in institutions (Germany); prohibit corporal punishment in other public institutions and abolish whipping as a form of punishment (Italy); abolish the practice of corporal punishment (France); legally prohibit any form of corporal punishment of children and adolescents (Chile)”

Examination in the second cycle is scheduled for 2014.

This analysis has been compiled from information from governmental and non-governmental sources, including reports on implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Every effort is made to maintain its accuracy. Please send us updating information and details of sources for missing information: info@endcorporalpunishment.org.

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