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TPP Talks In Ottawa: Brunei’s Brutal Sharia Law Raises Questions About Future Of Trade Deals

ICC Note:

The Sharia Law in Brunei will apply to all Bruneians, including the 22 percent who are not Muslim. The article reports that 119 members of the US Congress signed a letter to State Secretary John Kerry urging the U.S. to break off negotiations with Brunei “until [it] revokes its inhumane criminal code.” Australian government and Canadian activists also questioned Brunei over the Sharia Law before trade talks.

07/10/2014 Brunei (Huffington Post)- Ottawa is host this week to the latest round of negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed 12-country trading bloc that would include Pacific Rim countries such as Japan and the U.S., and would form the world’s largest free trade area, covering nearly 800 million people.

While Canadian activists have focused on the abnormally high level of secrecy surrounding the latest round of talks, and the potential for controversial, tougher copyright and patent laws, in other parts of the world, the debate is also focusing on some other questions: Do we really want to tie our economic wagon to so many countries, with such diverse politics and attitudes? And what will it mean for us if we do?

Case in point: One of the 12 countries involved in the talks is Brunei. The tiny petro-state of half a million people on the southeast Asian island of Borneo recently adopted harsh new Sharia laws, including the death penalty, by stoning, for adultery, gay sex and insulting the Koran. Other elements of the law include prison sentences for pregnancy outside of wedlock or failing to pray on Friday, and amputations or whipping for theft and drinking alcohol.

The law, which the government of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah started phasing in as of this spring, will apply to all Bruneians, including the 22 percent who aren’t Muslim.

The UN condemned the law as illegal under international law and Amnesty International said it would take the country “back to the dark ages.”

Not so politicians in other countries. In the U.S., 119 members of Congress, including some Republicans, signed a letter to State Secretary John Kerry urging the U.S. to break off negotiations with Brunei “until [it] revokes its inhumane criminal code.”

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