Brunei Darussalam is a country of origin and destination for trafficking in
persons. Asian women are trafficked to Brunei Darussalam, and young Brunei citizens
are trafficked to Australia.
Forms of Trafficking
Asian women end up as sex slaves in Brunei Darussalam after being falsely
promised employment as housemaids.1 For instance, the Philippine Embassy there
recently assisted in the repatriation of two Filipina victims who were lured to Brunei
Darussalam with false promises of jobs as guest relations officers or restaurant helpers
but were instead forced into prostitution upon their arrival.2
Indonesian babies are sold to buyers from Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, and
Young people from Brunei Darussalam and several other countries in
southeastern Asia are reportedly trafficked to Australia using student visas; in reality,
however, they rarely attend any classes but instead are forced by their traffickers to sell
drugs or to engage in prostitution.4
Legislation such as the Penal Code helps control the trafficking in persons,
especially women and children. Trafficking in women is not allowed under article 374 of
the code, which prohibits using any false pretense, false representation, or fraudulent or
deceitful means to bring or assist in bringing any woman into Brunei Darussalam with the
intent of using her for prostitution. The article also prohibits selling or buying a woman
for the purposes of prostitution.5 Furthermore, the code punishes anyone who habitually
imports, exports, removes, buys, sells, traffics, or deals in slaves. Punishment for such
crimes is a fine and imprisonment of up to 10 years.6
In the case of trafficking in children below the age of 18, the code prohibits the
selling or buying of minors for prostitution or any ―unlawful and immoral purpose.‖ 7 The
code also prohibits trafficking in girls—specifically importing girls under 21 from a
foreign country to have sex with another person.8 Other legislation protecting children
includes the Children Order, which considers unlawful the transfer of possession,
―Child Prostitution Attracting Foreign Businessmen to Indonesia,‖ Asia Pulse, 11 April 2001.
―RP Embassy Rescues Filipinas from Human Traffickers,‖ Manila Bulletin, 31 July 2003.
―Malaysia: Baby Trafficking, Child Trading Propose Problem for Jakarta,‖ Straits Times (Singapore), 22
Steve Gee, ―Student Visas a Cover for Criminal Activities, Say Police,‖ Daily Telegraph (Sydney), 13
Articles 372 and 373.
Article 366(3). Punishment for such an offense is a fine and imprisonment for up to 10 years.
custody, or control of a child ―for any valuable consideration,‖ such as trafficking in
children, whether the trafficking takes place within Brunei or elsewhere. Punishment of
the offense is imprisonment for up to 7 years, beating with 10 strokes of a rattan, a fine,
or a combination of these punishments.9
The Women and Girls Protection Act prohibits detaining any woman or girl in a
brothel against her will,10 detaining her in any other place for prostitution or for unlawful
or immoral purposes,11 living on or trading in prostitution,12 or maintaining a brothel.13
Under the Women and Girls Protection Act, women and girls who may be
considered in ―moral danger‖ or who are believed to have been mistreated and in need of
protection may be detained in a ―place of safety.‖14 The act also authorizes the competent
authority to make rules for the care, detention, maintenance, and education of women and
children who have been detained.15
The Penal Code also prohibits unlawful compulsory labor. According to article
374 of the code, ―Whoever unlawfully compels any person to labor against the will of
that person shall be punished with imprisonment … which may extend to 1 year, or with
a fine, or both.‖
The Labor Enactment Laws of 1954 prohibit employment of a person below the
age of 16. Parental consent and labor commission approval are required for the
employment of a person below the age of 18.
The Prevention of Corruption Act punishes bribery of any member of the public
body.16 Public officers who receive or are offered a gratification must report the incident.
Officers who fail to do so may be subject to a fine or 6 months’ imprisonment. The act
also criminalizes the offenses of possessing unexplained property and maintaining a
standard of living above that commensurate with a person’s previous employments.17
A 1999 amendment to the Criminal Procedure Code18 extended the court’s
jurisdiction in criminal matters to the following: (a) any offense committed wholly or
partly within Brunei Darussalam, (b) any offense committed by a person outside Brunei
Darussalam who abets or enters a conspiracy to commit an offense within the country,
whether or not any act to further the conspiracy takes place within Brunei Darussalam, or
(c) any offense committed by a national of Brunei Darussalam, whether the offense was
committed within or outside the country.19 The amendment applies to trafficking offenses
regardless of where they occurred or the nationality of the trafficker.
To implement the various laws, the Criminal Procedure Code gives police officers
in Brunei Darussalam wide-ranging powers of investigation and arrest.20 The code
governs police powers of investigation, most importantly the power to record statements
Section 11(a), (d).
The amendment was made as a part of the Emergency (Criminal Procedure Code) (Amendment) Order of
See section 3 of the Emergency Order, which repealed section 7 of the code.
Sections 19–38 and 111–123.
from the accused and witnesses as well as to record the notice-of-warning statements
from the accused. Since prostitution is a major offense, the police can arrest a person
involved in such an offense without a warrant.
Brunei authorities often treat foreign victims of trafficking as criminals, finding
them guilty of soliciting for prostitution, placing them in jail, and deporting them. The
sentences imposed on alleged pimps are often milder than for women in prostitution,
although in December 2002, two Thai women were sentenced to 3 months’ imprisonment
for soliciting, and their pimp was sentenced to 6 months’ imprisonment.21 In January
2003, two Thai women were sentenced to 3 months in prison for soliciting for
prostitution after failing to pay their US$1,500 fine; their pimp was released on US$5,000
court bail.22 In January and February 2003, police arrested six foreign women involved in
prostitution.23 In May 2003, a Filipina widow with five children was imprisoned for 3
months for soliciting a client after being found at a hotel room with a male by an antivice
squad raid.24 Also in May 2003, two Thai women were imprisoned for 2 months each,
while their pimp was imprisoned for 4 months for living off the prostitution earnings.25
In April 2003, Brunei representatives attended the Second Bali Regional
Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related
Transnational Crime. The conference focused on strengthening bilateral, multilateral,
regional, and international cooperation in combating illegal migration in the region. 26
Md Ezam, ―Brunei: Thai Pimp Jailed Six Months,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 20 December 2002.
Rol Ezam, ―Brunei: Two Prostitutes Jailed Three Months,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 28 January 2003.
Lyna Mohammad, ―Brunei: Police Solve 17 Crimes This Year,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 18 February 2003.
Rol Ezam, ―Brunei: Good-Time Filipina Sent to 3 Months Jail,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 27 May 2003.
Malai Dadley Rizal, ―Brunei: Trio Jailed for Prostitution,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 21 May 2003.
―Brunei: Bali Focus on Upsurge in People Smuggling,‖ Borneo Bulletin, 2 May 2003.