On 4th of March 2019, Malaysia became a state party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Africa Legal Aid (AFLA) applauds Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute as a positive step towards strengthening international criminal justice in the Asia-Pacific region. Malaysia’s accession to the Rome Statute comes at a time when engaging Asian countries in international justice has become pertinent, in light of international crimes being committed in Bangladesh, Myanmar, the Philippines, among others. AFLA calls on all countries in the Asian region and elsewhere that have not yet done so, to ratify the ICC Statute as soon as possible.
While it is true that these are challenging times for international justice, it is also an opportunity to draw lessons to strengthen and enhance the legitimacy of international criminal justice.
Last October, as part of the celebrations to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the Rome Statute of the ICC, AFLA’s Executive Director, Evelyn A. Ankumah was invited by the governments of Japan and The Netherlands to address high level government officials from Asia and African countries attending the 57th Annual Session of AALCO (Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization), held in Tokyo. She addressed the gathering on Universalising the Rome Statute in Asia with Lessons from Africa, with more information available here.
As President of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP) to the ICC, Judge O-Gwon Kwon observed, Malaysia’s ratification of the Rome Statute ‘sends a strong signal to the Asia-Pacific region and the world, reinforcing the independent system of international criminal justice to fight impunity and prevent the most serious crimes under international law’.