Instead of Icerd, focus on ratifying Rome Statute

Muzaffar Syah Mallow

Modified 10 Nov 2018, 12:00 am

LETTER | Instead of focusing so much effort to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (Icerd) which is seen as sensitive and controversial for our country, Malaysia should instead focus on ratifying the Rome Statute which recognises the existence of the International Criminal Court (ICC).

The Rome Statute or often referred to as the International Criminal Court Statute is the treaty that established the International Criminal Court (ICC). It was adopted at a diplomatic conference in Rome on July 17, 1998, and it entered into force on July 1, 2002. As of October 2017, 123 states are party to the statute.

Among other things, the statute establishes the court's functions, jurisdiction and structure. It is important for us to know that the ICC does not replace the role of domestic courts, but rather complements it. The ICC will try individuals only when the countries concerned are unable or unwilling to do so. In other words, it is a court of last resort.

The Rome Statute established four core international crimes namely genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes as well as the crimes of aggression.

Presently, Malaysia has ratified several international conventions like the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) 1989, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw) 1979 and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 2006.

Malaysia is also a party to the following human rights instruments namely, the Supplementary Convention on the Abolition of Slavery, the Slave Trade and Institutions and Practices Similar to Slavery 1956, the Convention on the Nationality of Married Women 1957 and the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948.

To be realistic, we are still living in a world which is highly unpredictable and full of uncertainty surrounded with many atrocities and threats. It’s already four years after the tragic incident of the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 or MH17 en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which has killed all 283 passengers and the 15 crew on board.

Until today, there is no justice for all the victims despite the outcomes given through the investigations. The issue can be brought to the attention of the ICC.

The ICC has proven itself to be an effective mechanism in addressing many issues relating to international crime and the tragedy involving MH17 should be seen as an international crime which can be brought to trial in this international court. The ICC is already functioning and has significant experience and much expertise looking into such matters.

As such, it would be good for Malaysia if we can start accepting, signing and ratifying the Rome Statute. Since March 2011, Malaysian officials have expressed their interest in ratifying it, however, there has been no progress until today.

Signing and ratifying the Rome Statute allows us a possible legal avenue to bring justice not only for MH17 victims but also for other cases which might affect our nation in the future.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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