THE International Criminal Court said it does not have the authority to hear a complaint against China for alleged harassment of Filipino fishermen in the South China Sea.
In a report, the court’s Office of the Prosecutor said the crimes alleged by former Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto F. del Rosario and former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales were committed by a state that is not a member of the Rome Statute, which created the court.
“Accordingly, the court lacks personal jurisdiction,” according to a copy of the report.
Mr. Del Rosario and Ms. Morales asked the court on behalf of Filipino fishermen in March to conduct a preliminary examination on China for the alleged harassmen.
They also questioned China’s reclamation and island-building in the South China Sea and its nationals’ harmful fishing practices.
But the court said the alleged crimes did not occur in a Philippine territory but only within its exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
“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,” it said.
In a joint statement, Mr. del Rosario and Ms. Morales said the ICC Prosecutor did not dismiss their communication.
“The Prosecutor welcomes new facts and evidence to proceed with the case and we are providing them,” according to the statement. “This has only strengthened our resolve.”
“Let them gloat in the meantime. This is just the beginning,” they said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas