PETALING JAYA: The argument that the Rome Statute would affect the immunity and sovereignty of the Malay Rulers and the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong is baseless, says Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi.
The constitutional expert said the government need not consult the Conference of Rulers before conceding to the Rome Statute that governs the International Criminal Court (ICC) as there was nothing in the Federal Constitution that said so.
“The Rome Statute does not affect the sovereignty of the Malay Rulers as they are not involved in ratification of foreign policies.
“Also, those who are arguing for the immunity of the Malay Rulers have a short memory, as the immunity of the Rulers to commit criminal and civil wrongdoings was removed under the 1993 Constitutional Amendment Act. The immunity of the Malay Rulers, which those opposed against the Rome Statute are talking about, is non-existent,” said Shad Saleem.
He pointed out that certain Malay Rulers have been taken to court over alleged civil wrongdoings.
As for the King, Shad Saleem pointed out that under Article 137 (1) of the Federal Constitution, the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces was not operationally responsible for the actions of the army.
“The King is not an absolute monarch but a constitutional monarch. The ICC is very clear that it only tries those who are directly responsible for the committed crimes and those who took part in massacres,” said Shad Saleem.
He also pointed out that 14 other countries with constitutional monarchs had acceded to the Rome Statute and there was no reason for the Malay Rulers to fear such a law.
“Whether we accede or not, the international law tide is coming onto us.
“The United Nations Security Council can pursue those who commit the four main crimes of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression or appoint an ad hoc tribunal as they did for Rwanda, which did not sign the Rome Statute.
“You can be a king in your own country but you can then step out to another country for your daughter’s graduation and be arrested for your crimes as there are global jurisdictions, even when you have only committed crimes in your own country, as was the case when they arrested General Augusto Pinochet of Chile,” said Shad Saleem.
Chilean dictator Pinochet was arrested for crimes against humanity on the basis of an international warrant in 1998 when he went to London to seek medical treatment.
“The people whipping up dissatisfaction against the government for ratifying the Rome Statute are morally bankrupt as the international treaty is against crimes of mass murder, crimes against humanity of the worst sort.
“The only ones fearing Malaysia acceding to the Rome Statute are the ones with ill-intentions to commit heinous crimes against humanity.
“Philippines retracted after acceding to the Rome Statute because its President Rodrigo Duterte wanted to exterminate the drug dealers,” said Shad Saleem.
Philippines signed the Rome Statute in 2011 but put in a notice of withdrawal in 2018, as Duterte engaged in open street war with the drug dealers.