Thursday, July 31, 2014

'AG to blame for exclusion from world court'

2:54PM Jul 28, 2014 Malaysiakini
'AG to blame for exclusion from world court'

Attorney General Abdul Gani Patail is the "stumbling block" to Malaysia becoming a state party to the International Criminal Court, said Ipoh Barat parliamentarian M Kulasegaran.

Kulasegaran said the AG's delay in implementing the decision of the cabinet that agreed to ratify the Rome Statute in 2011 prevents Malaysia from raising the matter of possible war crimes related to the shooting down of MH17 in Ukraine on Jul 17.

"We had discussions with the AG chambers then, and he said we have to amend certain laws, like the Internal Security Act before ratifying the Rome Statute," Kulasegaran told Malaysiakini.

"But this is not true, because many countries have ratified the Statute even without amending their laws," added Kulasegaran, who is secretary to Parliamentarians for Global Action (Malaysia chapter) that lobbies for countries to ratify the Rome Statute.

"This is what I told the AG, and the reply was, "Other countries are different, we are different"," Kulasegaran claimed.

Kulasegaran reminded the AG is merely a civil servant who should comply with the decisions of the cabinet.

He said the AG has no business to stop the ratification of the Rome Statute, and continuing to withhold it is a "shame and a setback" to the whole process of trying to become a member of the ICC, the world court.

'AG can't override cabinet'

He added that many countries including the Philippines and Maldives have signed the Statute since Malaysia's cabinet decision.

"If the cabinet has said yes, who is the AG to decide otherwise? He has no business to stop it. His business is to implement it," said Kulasegaran.

He said there were two instances where Malaysia lost the opportunity to use the facilities of the ICC - in the Palestine issue and the MH17 disaster, where 298 passengers from 10 countries, including 15 crew members and many children were killed when the airline was apparently shot down near in eastern Ukraine.

"We have to get a state party member to raise it. Why can't we just do our bit? Why are we refraining, restraining because of one man, the Attorney General of the country?" Kulasegaran said.

"We all know he is the most powerful man in the country, but he cannot override the cabinet."

Kulasegaran (left)  said he has spoken to PGA Malaysia chairperson Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, currently tourism minister, who said he would raise the issue in the coming cabinet meeting.

"Continuous holding back (of the decision) is a shameful affront to justice." Kulasegaran quipped.

Kulasegaran recalled that the PGA organised in Kuala Lumpur a regional (Asia-Pacific) ICC Parliamentary Conference in March 2011, and in April, the cabinet agreed in principle to the ratification.

"I have raised the issue many times since 2004, but the government said they will look into it," he said.

"The syariah laws were an issue, but I told them that countries like Jordan also ratified the statute. Then the government agreed (to proceed)," he added.

International calls to ratify

Kulasegaran's remarks comes after two International NGOs - Bangkok-based Coalition for the International Criminal Court and the New-York based Parliamentarians for Global Action - urged Malaysia to ratify the Rome Statute.

Malaysian Bar Council's human rights committee co-chairperson Andrew Khoo said the MH17 incident - where Malaysia appears to be a victim caught in the middle of a war between Russia and Ukraine - can be deemed a war crime.

He said this following Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who had proposed to raise the issue in the emergency parliament meeting called by Prime Minister Najib Razak to condemn the downing of the airplane.

Meanwhile, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay has described the "horrendous shooting down" of the Malaysia Airlines plane as possibly amounting to a war crime.

AFP quoted her as demanding for a "thorough, effective, independent and impartial investigation".

"Every effort will be made to ensure that anyone committing serious violations of international law, including war crimes, will be brought to justice, no matter who they are," Pillay had said in a statement, according to AFP.

She added the fighting in east Ukraine has claimed over 1,100 lives with both government and rebel forces using heavy weaponry in urban areas.

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