A new law which comes into effect from next week will punish homosexual sex and adultery with death in the small southeast Asian kingdom of Brunei. Beginning on April 3, any individuals found guilty of the offenses will be stoned to death, according to a new penal code. The punishment will be “witnessed by a group of Muslims.” The country’s strict new laws were announced in 2014, and have been rolled out gradually. The latest phase of implementation, including the brutal new provisions, was quietly announced on the Brunei attorney general’s website on December 29, 2018.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó will be barred from holding further public office for 15 years, the maximum allowed by law, the state financial controller has announced. Comptroller Elvis Amoroso said Mr Guaidó’s personal financial statements contained inconsistencies. Mr Guaidó rejected Mr Amoroso’s announcement, saying that he was “not auditor general”. With the backing of the Trump administration, Mr Guaidó has been leading calls for Mr Maduro to stand down as president as discontent with his socialist regime grows.
Saudi Arabian authorities have released three female activists who were jailed last year after campaigning to lift the driving ban and dismantle restrictive guardianship laws, several human rights organizations and news outlets report. Conditions of the women’s release remain unknown and initial reports indicate it is temporary as their trials continue to move through the criminal court. Human rights group ALQST announced the women’s release over Twitter, adding that authorities had issued “promises that the others will be released on Sunday 31 March.”
Pope Francis has addressed the mystery of why he withdrew his hand from worshippers’ kisses, explaining it was a “simple question of hygiene”. Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said the Pope was worried about germs when meeting Catholics last Wednesday. Conservative critics rounded on the pontiff, accusing him of shunning the centuries-old tradition. Video showing Pope Francis pulling away his hand from people attempting to kiss him went viral.
Maria Ressa, the co-founder of an online news start-up critical of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, has been arrested a second time as the Duterte administration steps up its campaign against a news outlet that has been sharply critical of his government. The latest charges against Ms. Ressa accuse her and members of her news outlet, Rappler, of violating laws regarding foreign ownership of the company. She was released around noon after posting bail, about five hours after she was arrested.