The International Criminal Court’s Office of the Prosecutor has dismissed the complaint filed by two former Philippine officials and Filipino fishermen against Chinese President Xi Jinping for committing crimes against humanity, particularly for the alleged destruction of natural resources in the country’s exclusive economic zone, especially in the West Philippine Sea.
In a report posted on the ICC website, ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda dismissed the complaint of former Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario, former Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and a group of fishermen accusing Xi of committing crimes against humanity, saying the tribunal lacked the territorial and personal jurisdiction over the case.
Del Rosario, Morales and a group of fishermen accused Chinese officials led by Xi of committing crimes against humanity for allegedly implementing a systematic plan to control the South China Sea, which resulted in the destruction of natural resources, and endangered the livelihood of more than 300,000 fishermen and the food security of present and future generations of Filipinos.
In dismissing the complaint, the ICC prosecutor noted that China is not a party to the Rome Statute, the treaty that created the ICC.
“The crimes referred to in the communication were allegedly committed by Chinese nationals in the territory of the Philippines. China is not a state party to the Rome Statute. Accordingly, the court lacks personal jurisdiction,” the ICC prosecutor said.
The prosecutor also found no basis for the ICC to acquire jurisdiction over the complaint on the argument that the crimes committed by the Chinese leaders took place outside Philippine territory.
A country’s exclusive economic zone or EEZ is not part of the definition of “territory” under the Rome Statute, the prosecutor added.
Del Rosario, Carpio-Morales, and the fishermen filed the communication in March this year, two days before the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC took effect on March 17.
Meanwhile, the ICC prosecutor reported that it is still finalizing its analysis on whether the ICC can admit the other set of communications filed with the ICC with respect to alleged extrajudicial killings in connection with President Rodrigo Duterte administration’s war on drugs.
In a joint statement, Del Rosario and Morales said the ICC prosecutor did not dismiss their complaint but sought “new facts and evidence” to proceed with the case.
“Let them gloat in the meantime,” Morales added. “This is just the beginning.”