The Chair of the Kaleidoscope Trust has accused Baroness Warsi of failing to publicly raise Brunei’s new penal code, which advocates the death penalty for homosexual acts, following a recent meeting with the Sultan of Brunei.
Writing for The Huffington Post, Dr Purna Sen mentioned that Baroness Warsi expressed “concern” with the Sultan during her trip to Brunei – but only behind closed doors.
“Britain’s Human Rights Minister made no public comment at all when she met the Sultan in Brunei only last month,” Dr Sen said.
Foreign and Commonwealth Minister Baroness Warsi, who also has the title of UK’s ‘Human Rights Minister’, met with Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah on 16 April.
It has long been a crime in Brunei, but the maximum punishment had been a 10-year prison sentence.
Dr Sen added: “Like Uganda, Brunei is a member of the Commonwealth. That organisation claims to base its work on the values of democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Britain opposes the death penalty and supports the rights of LGBT citizens internationally. And yet at the very time that those principles are being flagrantly violated the red carpets are rolled out and the smiles and handshakes are proffered without a public word of criticism being uttered.”
She added: “The Commonwealth should be ashamed of its failure to uphold its own values. And Britain should not leave itself open to suspicions that trading and financial interests come ahead of human rights every time. This week’s meeting with the Commonwealth Business Council was the ideal opportunity to send a clear public signal that it cannot always be business as usual. Sadly it was an opportunity wasted.”