Malaysia backtracks on int'l criminal court recognition

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

ANKARA (AA) – Malaysia has dropped plans to ratify the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), local media said Friday.

The move comes after criticism by Malaysia's royal family who argued that the recognition of the statute would “violate the federal constitution “.

The Daily Star quoted Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad as saying that his Cabinet has decided not to ratify the statute.

Malaysia is a constitutional monarchy since 1957 when it gained freedom from British colonialism.

The Rome Statute covers serious crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes, and crimes of aggression.

“There seems to be a lot of confusion about the Rome Statute, so we will not accede, ” Mahathir told a news conference.

“This is not because we are against it, but because of the political confusion about what it entails, caused by people with vested interests, ” The Star quoted the Malaysian premier as saying.

Earlier this month, the Philippines has withdrawn from the ICC after prosecutors had launched an investigation against its president over his war on drugs in the country.

Accession to the Rome Statute had received mixed reactions in Malaysia with many expressing concerns on the ICC’s impact on Malaysian rulers’ power and Malay privileges.

Crown Prince of Malaysia Tunku Mahkota Johor Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim had tweeted on March 10 that the government had failed to consult the “Conference of Rulers” when it agreed to accede to the Rome Statute, “and that the government had undermined the rulers’ position “.

On March 23, Sultan of Johor Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar had accused the central government of violating the federal constitution by signing the Rome Statute.

The ICC is the first permanent, treaty-based international criminal court, with the objective of ending impunity for perpetrators of the most serious crimes known to the international community.

It was established in 2002 and is governed by the Rome Statute.

Dubbed the “court of last resort,” ICC takes action against individuals when a government is unwilling or unable to prosecute on any of those four crimes.

On Thursday, opposition leader Ismail Sabri Yaakob had also filed a bill in the parliament urging the federal government to withdraw from the Rome Statute.

Yaakob argued that the statute would affect the position and the immunity of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Malaysia's king.

Until now, 122 countries are party to the Rome Statute excluding the United States, China, Russia, and India.