On 4 March 2019, Malaysia acceded to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC), making it the 124th State Party to the ICC.
“The decision by Malaysia’s government to become party to the Rome statute should be commended as a positive sign of its commitment to the rule of law and acceptance to work with the global community to end impunity and ensure accountability for some of the gravest crimes under international law,” said Frederick Rawski, the ICJ’s Asia-Pacific Director.
The ICJ considers the establishment of the ICC as a watershed achievement in the development of international law and the will and capacity of States to act in concert to address atrocities around the world that carry devastating consequences for the victims.
The aim to end impunity on a global scale requires that the Rome Statute be ratified universally.
The ICC was established in 2002 as a permanent international criminal court to investigate and, where warranted, put on trial individuals charged with the some of the most serious crimes of international concern, particularly the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and the crime of aggression.
The Rome Statute operates on the principle of complementarity, meaning that the ICC can only become engaged when the responsible States are unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute allegations at the national level.
“Malaysia’s accession serves as an example for the entire Asian region, which has been significantly underrepresented at the ICC,” said Rawski.
“It sends a timely message of support for international accountability, at a moment when the actions of two of Malaysia’s neighboring countries – Myanmar and the Philippines – are the focus of preliminary investigations by the ICC, and after Philippines announced its intent to withdraw from the Statute last year,” he added.
In March 2018, the ICC was formally notified by Philippines of its intention to withdraw from the Rome Statute after the court initiated a preliminary examination into allegations of crimes committed in the context of the Philippines’ government’s “war on drugs” campaign since July 2016. The ICJ condemned this move as a blow to international justice.
In September 2018, the ICC launched a preliminary examination into allegations of forced deportations of Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar into Bangladesh, on the basis that the court had jurisdiction because Bangladesh is a State Party and the deportations occurred in part on Bangladeshi territory. The ICJ submitted an amicus curiae in support of such jurisdiction.
Frederick Rawski, ICJ Asia and Pacific Regional Director, e: frederick.rawski(a)icj.org
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