by Ganesh Saahthevan
As reported by Malaysiakini:
Wisma Putra has assured that the position of the monarchy will not be threatened after Malaysia acceded to the Rome Statute, a treaty governing the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This came after Johor crown prince Tunku Ismail Sultan Ibrahim claimed that the Malay rulers may no longer be relevant after Malaysia acceded to the treaty.
"Prior to joining the Rome Statute, the government had conducted an in-depth study on various aspects.
"The government is confident that the decision will not affect the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's position and immunity," Wisma Putra said in a statement today.
On Friday, Tunku Ismail was asked by the "Friends of Johor" Twitter account if the Rome Statute would threaten the monarchy.
He replied: "Yes, the position of the Malay rulers may no longer be relevant after this and the sovereignty of the rulers will surely be threatened. As a result, it will impact the status of Malays and Islam in Malaysia."
However, even the Australian Government, which governs a nation and system far more liberal than Malaysia, where there is no national religion and Queen Elizabeth II is, in effect, head of state in name only;chose to define its ratification of the Rome Statute with a number of express declarations:
Australia's instrument of ratification includes a declaration affirming the primacy of Australia's criminal jurisdiction in relation to crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court. It outlines the conditions under which a person in Australian custody or control would be surrendered to the Court and clarifies Australia's interpretation of the crimes within the Statute. The declaration has full effect in Australian law and is not a reservation. It reinforces safeguards already built into the Statute to preserve Australian sovereignty over our criminal jurisdiction.
While there can be argument as to the legal effect of the declarations, for practical purposes these statements by then Australian Prime Minister John Howard are instructive, and show how Wisma Putra and its legal advisers have been careless,in the context of Malaysia's unique religious and social framework:
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The World Today Archive - Thursday, 20 June , 2002 00:00:00
ELEANOR HALL: The Prime Minister has just emerged from the party room meeting we heard about a moment ago to speak to the media about the International Criminal Court.
Here's part of what he had to say:
JOHN HOWARD: I'm here with my colleagues to announce that the Government has decided to proceed to ratification of the International Criminal Court Statute. The decision has been reached after a very lengthy but beneficial and widespread consultation within the Government parties.
The decision to proceed to ratification will be accompanied by a number of very important and firm stipulations. At the time of ratification, Australia will deposit a declaration, which states a number of things, and I'll be releasing with my formal press statement a copy of this declaration.
The declaration will reaffirm the primacy of Australian law and the Australian legal system in relation to the prosecution of offences under the legislation giving affect to the statute. It will be declared that no person can be arrested on a warrant issued by the court, or surrendered to the court without the prior consent of the Attorney General of the Commonwealth.
It will also declare Australia's understanding that the offences of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes under the International Criminal Court Statute will be interpreted in accordance with Australian law. The matters in the declaration will be incorporated in the legislation, implementing our obligations under the International Criminal Court Statute. In other words, they will not be bear pious declarations, they will in fact become part of Australian law and therefore they will govern all behaviour in relation to Australian residence, or people in Australia, all within the control of Australia, such as example, our Defence Forces serving overseas, will remain completely subject to Australian law.
There's a further important stipulation that will be put in the enabling legislation and that is that no prosecution within Australia can be launched without prior consent of the Attorney General and indeed it must be launched in his or her name. That means effectively that the capacity for frivolous or vexatious private prosecution or interest prosecution can be stymied by the Attorney General taking them over and filing a no bill, according to his or her determination, of course of the merits of such prosecution. We believe that the International Criminal Court will make a valuable further addition to the efforts of the world to bring to justice people who perpetrate atrocious crimes, and it's in that spirit that Australia has decided to ratify.
REPORTER: Do you expect any of your colleagues to cross the floor?
JOHN HOWARD: Look, that's ultimately a matter for them. Let me put it this way – I was greatly encouraged, even warmed, by the response in the party room this morning. There are a number of my colleagues, as happens on a lot of things, will retain reservations about the Government's decision. But having seen an exhaustive and very democratic process of consultation used will support the decision.