Conference Of Rulers Allegedly Rejected The Rome Statute Based On A Biased Paper

Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced Malaysia's withdrawal from the Rome Statute on 5 April.

Cover image via Kosmo/Malaysiakini (edited)

Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad announced Malaysia's withdrawal from the Rome Statute of International Criminal Court (ICC) on 5 April – within a month of ratifying it

According to New Straits Times, Mahathir revealed that the withdrawal was due to confusion surrounding the Statute. 

"It is a coward move by certain quarters who have politicised the issue, and not because it is the question of the law," the Prime Minister was quoted as saying by New Straits Times.

Malaysiakini reported that Mahathir claimed the confusion was created by a particular individual "who wants to be free to beat up people". 

He also alleged that critics of the Statute aimed to trigger tensions between Malaysia's monarchy and the Pakatan Harapan government, according to Malay Mail

Rejection of the Statute was followed by an appreciation post from Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar, who thanked the government for taking views of the Conference of Rulers into account

Image via Kosmo

"I say thank you to the Malaysian government for hearing the voice of the people to cancel the Rome Statute signed in March," Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar said in a Facebook post yesterday,  April. 

"I also say thank you for respecting and accepting the views of the Conference of Rulers," he added.

Prior to the withdrawal, Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail accused the government of allegedly violating the Constitution by ratifying the Rome Statute without the consent of Conference of Rulers

A document which was allegedly used to convince the Conference of Rulers to reject the Rome Statute has since been leaked by a group of student activists

An executive summary of a paper, which was published on Facebook yesterday, was allegedly presented to the Conference of Rulers recently.

The students claimed that the paper was similar to the arguments presented by Crown Prince of Johor Tunku Ismail through a Facebook post on 5 April.

The paper was written by four lecturers from Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM), International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), and Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM). 

"The arguments in the paper were very biased as they only discussed why the Conference of Rulers should reject the Rome Statute... They were the real cause of the confusion," the student group said in the Facebook post. 

The group added that the academics should have presented both the positives and negatives of the Statute in the paper. 

"We believe that there should be a healthy debate at every level as it involves the people. The points should be debated to avoid confusion," the students said. 

The paper apparently cited war crimes tribunals against two rulers that preceded the ICC, among others

The student group argued that the paper created confusion towards the Statute by citing tribunals against Emperor Wilhelm II of Germany and Emperor Hirohito of Japan – two monarchies who were involved in World War I and World War II respectively.

The paper argued that this was proof that rulers were not immune from prosecution by the ICC.

"Do these academics know their history? Both emperors were involved in world wars. There is no need to compare our rulers to these emperors as our rulers clearly uphold the sovereignty of Malaysian law," the student group said.

Nonetheless, The Star reported that authors of the paper have been silent on their involvement in the issue.

The Rome Statute governs the ICC, which was established in 2002

Image via Malaysiakini

The ICC is a permanent treaty-based international criminal court which aims to bring offenders – who would have been immune to prosecution in his own country – to justice.

Perpetrators of crimes such as genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity and aggression have been brought before the ICC. 

For instance, ICC called for the arrest of Saif al-Islam Gaddafi – the son of former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi – in 2017 after he was accused of inciting violence and murdering protestors in 2011. 

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