The following information reports U.S. Government priorities and activities of the U.S. mission in Brunei to promote democracy and human rights. For background on Brunei's human rights conditions, please see the 2009 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices and the International Religious Freedom Reports at 2009-2017.state.gov.
Part 1: U.S. Government Democracy Objectives
The U.S. Government seeks to promote the development of a more accountable and transparent government institutional framework in the country that ultimately allows popular participation in an open political process. To encourage such participation, U.S. officials share the benefits of the U.S. democratic system and political openness with government officials, military officers, private citizens, civil society representatives, NGOs, political groups, and student groups. This includes expansion of person-to-person exchanges and increasing the number of Bruneians visiting or studying in the United States.
Part 2: Supporting Top Priorities and Other Aspects of Human Rights and Democratic Governance
To help foster development of a well-informed and involved civil society, the United States continues to promote freedom of expression, improve local journalism skills, and expand public debate through outreach and educational exchange programs. These programs also serve to widen the range and improve the quality of information about the United States available in the country. U.S. officials use these programs to introduce rule of law and human rights values consistent with international best practices to professionals, public employees, and law enforcement officers.
The United States encourages the government to progress on the path toward an effective and more representative legislative council through advocacy for the principles of transparent governance, the direct popular election of some council members, the formation of more independent political parties, and the termination of the longstanding state of emergency. The United States supports the only independent registered political party through exchange programs, public interaction, and advocacy. The United States also encourages the government to make efforts to combat trafficking in persons.
The United States targets its exchange programs to support these priorities. Each year the U.S. Government provides funding to send exchange participants to the United States--one Fulbright scholar, two International Visitor Leadership Program participants, one Edward R. Murrow journalism fellow, and at least five Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies fellows. The United States also provides support to security forces to build their understanding of international human rights standards. U.S. officials routinely meet with senior government officials as well as local political and religious leaders to discuss opportunities to promote interfaith dialogue. In addition, the embassy sponsored a leading political party development expert from the United States to conduct a workshop with the country's only registered political party.
In addition, the U.S. Government has increased public diplomacy efforts in support of democracy promotion. Government officials, journalists, and business leaders have attended U.S.-sponsored trainings and conferences on elections, governmental accountability, and human rights. The U.S. ambassador writes a weekly newspaper column in which he discusses themes of human rights and democracy. Via the embassy Web site, blogs, and other Internet media, the U.S. Government delivers extensive information about the United States, including its democratic system, the free media, and civil society, targeting the younger generation. The use of digital video conferences provides for more direct discussions with U.S. speakers and policy makers. U.S. officials interact directly with varied audiences ranging from high-school to college-age students, military officers, leading business leaders, civil society, and government officials. The embassy established a new outreach program that makes available books, magazines, and interactive media on democracy, human and civil rights, and U.S. and world history.