Ex-minister tells why Rome Statute not signed by previous govt

Anifah Aman says there were grey areas on the Rome Statute which needed to be addressed. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former foreign minister Anifah Aman today denied a claim that he had refused to sign the instrument of accession to the Rome Statute in 2011, saying he was merely following the Attorney-General’s advice.

Anifah said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) had not agreed that Malaysia should accede to the Rome Statute.

“The Cabinet revisited the issue (of accession to the Rome Statute) in 2015 and it was decided for Malaysia to accede to the Rome Statute and for the Attorney-General’s Chambers to prepare the necessary papers that could then be tabled during the Cabinet meeting towards this end,” Anifah said in a statement.

“However, the Attorney-General’s Chambers never prepared the Cabinet papers.”

Former ambassador Noor Farida Mohd Ariffin, who once headed the foreign ministry’s Research, Treaties and International Law Department, told a forum recently that she had recommended Malaysia ratify the Rome Statute but it was met with opposition from the AGC.

She said Anifah too had refused to sign the document.

But Anifah said the claim was an “inaccurate misrepresentation of the whole situation”.

He said there were a number of grey areas which needed to be addressed, and this included concerns raised by the AGC.

He said as the foreign minister, he had to be very careful as any wrong move could have negative repercussions.

“Should I have listened to Noor Farida only or dismissed the Attorney-General’s Chambers concerns? I believe I owed it to the people and my country to be thorough and not dismiss the Attorney-General’s Chambers concerns.”

In March, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the government had no choice but to quit the treaty, following criticism from the Johor palace as well as some parties who said it would undermine Malaysia’s royal institution.

The treaty, which forms the basis of the International Criminal Court, allows prosecution of those accused of genocide and war crimes.