MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Two former Philippine officials and a group of fishermen filed a complaint against Chinese President Xi Jinping before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for crimes against humanity over environmental damage in the South China Sea.
Former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and former ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, along with the fishermen, submitted this communication to the ICC on March 15. This was two days before the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC took effect on March 17.
Del Rosario sent Rappler a copy of the document on Thursday afternoon, March 21.
Del Rosario, Morales, and the fishermen told the ICC's Office of the Prosecutor that Xi and other Chinese officials have committed crimes "which involve massive, near-permanent, and devastating environmental damage across nations."
They said the environmental damage occurred as Xi and other officials implement "China's systemic plan to take over the South China Sea." The Philippines owns rights over part of these waters, called the West Philippine Sea by Manila.
"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," said Del Rosario, Morales, and the fishermen in their complaint.
The complainants said the ICC has jurisdiction over the case because the Chinese officials' actions "occurred within the period when the Philippines was a state party to the Rome Statute."
Del Rosario, Morales, and the group of fishermen requested the ICC prosecutor "to consider this communication…with a view to initiating a preliminary examination and, subsequently, an investigation."
Del Rosario and Morales wrote the communication's cover letter, and addressed it to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on March 13.
The former officials said they write "on behalf of ourselves as Filipinos and the hundreds of thousands of Filipino fishermen persecuted and injured by officials of the People's Republic of China."
"We believe that the grave consequences of these actions justify that the Honorable Court's involvement as it affirms one of the principles of the Rome Statute that 'the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole must not go unpunished and their effective prosecution must be ensured,'" said Del Rosario and Morales.
"We urge you to initiate a preliminary examination on this matter, if only so the Court can apprise itself of Chinese crimes committed not only against the Filipino people, but also against people of other nations, which crimes are already known to the international community," they added. – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.