Lack of jurisdiction. ICC dismisses WPH case vs China

Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda of the International Criminal Court (ICC) dismissed the case filed by former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales against China in connection with the intrusions in West Philippine Sea.

Bensouda cited infirmity in jurisdiction as basis in junking the case.

“The Office concluded that the crimes allegedly committed do not fall within the territorial or otherwise personal jurisdiction of the Court,” read Bensouda’s report.

Del Rosario and Morales filed the communication last March, naming Chinese President Xi Jinping as respondent for crimes against humanity in the contested WPH.

But Bensouda said that a country’s Exclusive Economic Zone cannot be considered “part of territory”.

“The Office has concluded that a State’s Exclusive Economic Zone (and continental shelf) cannot be considered to comprise part of its ‘territory’ for the purpose of article 12(2)(a) of the (Rome) Statute,” Bensouda said.

“In the Office’s view, the EEZ (and continental shelf) cannot be equated to territory of a State within the meaning of article 12 of the Statute, given that the term ‘territory’ of a State in this provision should be interpreted as being limited to the geographical space over which a State enjoys territorial sovereignty,” Bensouda said.

In their communication, Morales and del Rosario claimed that China committed crimes “which involve massive, near-permanent, and devastating environmental damage across nations.”

They stressed the damage happened as Xi implement “China’s systemic plan to take over the South China Sea.”

“These violations of China, through President Xi Jinping and other officials, have caused serious injury to (a) an identifiable group of Filipino nationals who depend on fishing for their livelihood; and (b) to present and future generations of inhabitants of the coastal countries in the South China Sea, including Filipino nationals, by accelerating a fisheries collapse and, consequently, a food shortage across several nations,” read the complaint.

Among the crimes punishable under the ICC are genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and aggression.

China is not a state party to the Rome Statute, which established the ICC.

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