“I am aware that there are many questions and misperceptions with regard to the implementation of the SPCO. However, we believe that once these have been cleared, the merit of the law will be evident,” the sultan said in a speech ahead of the start of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

“As evident for more than two decades, we have practiced a de facto moratorium on the execution of death penalty for cases under the common law. This will also be applied to cases under the SPCO, which provides a wider scope for remission.”

The wealthy sultan, who once was the captain of his own Boeing 747 jumbo jet flying to Washington DC and meet former American president Barack Obama, often faces criticism from activists who deem his absolute monarchy to be despotic. He usually doesn’t react to such criticism.

“Both the common law and the Syariah law aim to ensure peace and harmony of the country,” he said. “They are also crucial in protecting the morality and decency of the country as well as the privacy of individuals.”

Brunei has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and has rejected all recommendations to this effect in the review of its human rights record at the UN in 2014, Amnesty International stated.