Brunei Darussalam is a monarchy governed since 1967 by Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah. Emergency powers in place since 1962 allow the sultan to govern with few limitations on his authority. The Legislative Council, composed of appointed, indirectly elected, and ex officio members, met during the year and exercised a purely consultative role in recommending and approving legislation and budgets.
The Royal Brunei Police Force and the Internal Security Department have responsibility for law enforcement and the maintenance of order within the country and come under the purview of the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office, respectively. For crimes that fall under the Sharia Penal Code, both entities are supported by religious enforcement officers from the Ministry of Religious Affairs. The Departments of Labor and Immigration in the Ministry of Home Affairs also hold limited law enforcement powers for labor and immigration offenses, respectively. The armed forces under the Ministry of Defense are responsible for external security matters but maintain some domestic security responsibilities. The secular and sharia judicial systems operate in parallel. The sultan maintained effective control over the security forces. There were no reports of security force abuses.
Significant human rights issues included credible reports of: degrading treatment or punishment by government authorities; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; serious restrictions on free expression and media, including censorship and criminal libel laws; serious restrictions on internet freedom; the inability of citizens to change their government peacefully through free and fair elections; serious restrictions on political participation; trafficking in persons; and the existence of laws criminalizing consensual same-sex sexual conduct between adults, although the law was not enforced.
There were no reports of official impunity for violations of the law by government officials.