PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Bar has expressed its deep concerns at the government's decision to withdraw from the Rome Statute, calling it a step backwards for Malaysia's international standing.
President Abdul Fareed Abdul Gafoor said the Rome Statute withdrawal comes just five month's after Putrajaya made a u-turn on its pledge to accede to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd).
“Backpedalling on such a substantial matter does not augur well for Malaysia’s credibility and reputation as a member of the international community that upholds international norms and stands up for human rights for all.
“The government’s decisions to pull out in these two instances lend to the perception that the government should actively engage with and educate all relevant stakeholders, as well as address their concerns regarding international engagements that could be misperceived to have a negative impact on the nation’s sovereignty,” he added.
Abdul Fareed said Malaysia has chosen to remain in the minority of countries that have not signed, ratified or acceded to the Rome Statute – alongside the likes of North Korea, China, Saudi Arabia and Somalia – for reasons that are not entirely clear to the public. (The United States has not ratified either – ED).
“The Malaysian Bar will persist with our longstanding advocacy for Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute, as well as to the remaining six core international human rights instruments and their optional protocols,” he said.
On April 5, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the withdrawal from the Rome Statute, blaming confusion created by one particular person “who wants to be free to beat up people and things like that”.
The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is the first permanent, treaty-based international court that prosecutes perpetrators who commit genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes of aggression.
Established in 2002, it is also dubbed the "court of last resort" as the ICC only comes into play when a government is unwilling or unable to prosecute individuals of any of those crimes.
As of March 18, there were 122 countries that are party to the Rome Statute.