Defense Minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro claims the government is complying with the principles of the treaty underlying the International Criminal Court, even without having ratified it.
Amid calls by the House of Representatives for formal ratification, Purnomo said on Monday that the government was still weighing the costs and benefits of ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
“A lot of other countries haven’t ratified it either. That includes big countries like the United States, for instance,” he said, adding this was not the reason Indonesia has not yet ratified the statute.
The ICC investigates and prosecutes cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and “the crime of aggression” in situations where states are unable or unwilling to do so themselves.
“We’ve already got a law on human rights, a law on human rights tribunals and the Constitution, all of which govern the rights and responsibilities of all citizens,” Purnomo said.
“All of them cover the issue of human rights. So even without ratifying [the Rome Statute], we’re already complying with the principles enshrined in it.”
Purnomo denied his ministry was solely responsible for blocking ratification, saying the responsibility for any decision regarding ratification rested also with the Foreign Ministry and the Justice and Human Rights Ministry.
“It’s a government decision. You can’t just single out one ministry, because there are three of us involved. It’s not about one minister wanting this or another wanting that. This is a question of ratification by the government,” he said.
Purnomo’s statements came amid calls last week by senior House officials to immediately ratify the Rome Statute.
“Ratifying the ICC statute will strengthen our international law enforcement commitments,” Aziz Syamsuddin, a deputy chairman of House Commission III, overseeing legal affairs, said last Wednesday.
Marzuki Darusman, a former attorney general and current United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in North Korea, also pressed for immediate ratification of the statute.
“Our hope is that the government and the House can immediately ratify it, because that will help boost Indonesia’s international standing,” he said.
“We will be seen as a people committed to upholding international law, especially against extraordinary crimes. The ICC was set up to serve justice by tackling impunity and holding people personally accountable for their crimes.”
Marzuki also said Indonesia should not base its reluctance to ratify the treaty on fears that certain officials and figures of authority could be taken before the ICC for their roles in past human rights abuses.
“Keep in mind that one of the key characteristics of ratification to the ICC is that it is not retroactive. The events in our past are ours to address,” he said.
He added that all that the House and the government needed to do to ratify the statute was simply pass legislation containing two points: one stating that the Rome Statute was valid, and another pledging the government’s commitment to upholding the principles of the statute.