119 members of the House of Representatives called on the Obama Administration to address Brunei’s human rights violations before continuing important trade negotiations with the nation.
The Government of Brunei Darussalam recently enacted a harsh penal code that includes stoning for same-sex acts. Other capital offenses include rape and adultery. The United States is in negotiations with eleven other countries—Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam—on a major trade agreement called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The final TPP would significantly expand access to markets and trade among the participating countries.
The Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, which is schedule for November 10-11, 2014, is considered one possible timeframe to conclude negotiations.
In a letter to Secretary John Kerry and U.S. Trade Ambassador Michael Froman, the House members made clear that “International trade partners have much to gain from an economic relationship with the United States, and our trade agreements should insist that participating countries adhere to internationally recognized civil, political, and human rights standards. Targeting LGBT individuals or religious minorities and opening to door to discrimination and violence against women is a threat we cannot overlook, and should agreements like the TPP go into effect with the participation of human rights violators, the United States would lose its leverage to provide economic pressure on countries to reverse unacceptable policies.”