Brunei urged to ratify a UN convention

National 2 minutes, 35 seconds

BRUNEI-MUARA

THE Swiss assistant state secretary for the Asia-Pacific region urged Brunei to quickly ratify the United Nations (UN) Convention against Torture which it signed last September.

Speaking during a recent interview, Johannes Matyassy said a prompt ratification of the Convention would represent an “extremely important” and good signal to the international community.

“During my recent meeting with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Brunei, I invited the deputy minister and permanent secretaries to be able to have a quick ratification of the UN Convention against Torture which Brunei has signed last year,” he said.

“His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah, the Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam also spoke out against violence at the 69th session of the UN General Assembly which is an important step if leaders of Muslim nations like Brunei stands up and speaks out against this,” he said.

Matyassy, who concluded his three-day working visit to the country yesterday, said a quick ratification of the Convention also sends a clear signal of the values for which the country stands and defends.

“You will regularly read or hear of violence around the world these days but the perception of the people really is one that is completely different with reality and we (as nations) must work together towards avoiding giving negative signals which might give credence to the wrong perception.

“I think it is also important that Brunei, as one of the important Muslim nations not just regionally but also in the international community, very clearly express their opinion against this through actions,” he added.

Up until Fiji signed onto the 1984 UN Convention against Torture last month, Brunei had been the latest signatory to the Convention which requires the signatory nation to take steps to prevent torture and acts of cruel, degrading or inhumane treatment.

Article 1 of the Convention defines torture as “acts which intentionally inflicts severe pain or sufferings on a person for obtaining information or confessions, punishment, intimidation, coercion or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind”.

The definition, however, is limited to acts of torture carried out by a public official or with the consent of a public official on a private citizen.

Article 2 prohibits a state of emergency from being used as justification for acts of torture to be committed.

Steps required to ratify the Convention include taking legislative actions to criminalise acts of torture, prohibiting the expulsion or extradition of the person to another country where the person is likely to be tortured and educating during the training of law enforcement personnel, medical personnel and public officials regarding the prohibition against torture.

When asked if a timeline for the completion of the ratification process was brought up during the discussions, Matyassy said senior officials at the ministry informed him that they were currently still in the midst of their own internal procedures and that no definitive timeline could be given.

“We respect and understand the procedures that the government in Brunei has and trust that they will be able to complete the (ratification) process in due time,” he said.

The Brunei Times