‘Rulers have nothing to fear from Rome Statute’

Chandra Muzaffar says criticism of the Rome Statute does not hold water.

PETALING JAYA: The Malay rulers have nothing to fear from Malaysia’s ratification of the Rome Statute, said prominent thinker Chandra Muzaffar, after the prime minister hinted yesterday that the government was forced to withdraw from the treaty due to pressure from the palace.

Chandra said the Rome Statute only involves policymakers and not the Malay rulers who are not part of the government’s decision-making process.

“The monarchy is not involved in any decision-making, it does not have any effect on them.

“The criticism does not hold water,” Chandra, who has written extensively on the subject of crimes against humanity which is at the centre of the Rome Statute, told FMT.

Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the government had no choice but to withdraw from the Rome Statute, which it ratified on March 4.

The decision to ratify the Rome Statute has come under attack from the Johor palace, with crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim saying Malay rulers could fall victim to “orchestrated war crimes” by those wanting to see the fall of the country’s royal institution.

Chandra, who chairs the International Movement for a Just World, said the treaty is aimed at government leaders who are suspected of crimes against humanity.

“That person should be on trial, nothing wrong with that.

“We should not defend our future (political) leaders who have done terribly wrong things which violate the consciousness of human kind,” he said.

Chandra said many countries have endorsed the Rome Statute because it articulates global standards on evaluating misdeeds of those in power.

The Rome Statute is an international agreement that created the International Criminal Court (ICC).

It complements existing laws in a state to prosecute individuals who commit international crimes, as contained in Article 5 of the statute, such as genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

Eric Paulsen, who had represented Malaysia at the Asean Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), said the criticism on the Rome Statute was disappointing, as the the government has committed itself to follow the rule of law.

He said while Malaysia has expressed support for the rights of the Rohingya, the Yemenis and Palestinians, it could not effectively fight for them as “we have withdrawn from the treaty. ”

“I am surprised with the opponents because the ICC is a court of last resort for the prosecution of serious international crimes,” he said.