Govt confident rulers, leaders will not commit war crimes, genocide

26 Mar 2019 / 17:36 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: The government acceded to the Rome Statute having full confidence that the country’s rulers and leaders would not commit the four core international crimes tried by the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah explained that the Rome Statute of the ICC only serves to complement existing laws in signatory countries to prosecute individuals who commit the most serious crimes, namely genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes of aggression.

He said the government did not see such crimes being committed by the rulers and top leaders, allaying fear that signing the Rome Statute would affect the position and immunity of the monarch.

“For us in the government, we have full confidence that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the Malay rulers, the prime minister or any other leaders do not have any intention of committing any of the four grievous crimes under ICC,” he said.

Saifuddin said this in the Dewan Rakyat when winding up the King’s speech, here today.

The minister explained that, although highly unlikely, should the crimes be committed, the Malay rulers would still be tried in the Malaysian court first before any decisions were made to take the matter to the ICC.

“If, and that is a big if, they commit the crime and the signatory country has taken the necessary actions, then the question about bringing in the ICC does not arise,” he said.

He was responding to a question by Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, the former minister in charge of law, on what was the government’s position, should any of the rulers commit one of the aforementioned crimes, and if the federal constitution was not sufficient to address such cases.

Saifuddin pointed out that ICC only plays the role of a “court of last resort”, and that it would only be called should the country’s legal system was “unable or unwilling” to take the necessary actions to prosecute a criminal.

The government had, on March 4, signed the instrument to accede to the Rome Statute of the ICC, that aims to end impunity against perpetrators, a move that received brickbats from several quarters.

Among others, Johor ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar had accused the government of violating the federal constitution by signing the Rome Statute, as it touches on the powers of the monarch, Malay special privileges and the sanctity of Islam in the country.

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