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Philippines' shooting violates international law: ministry

2013/05/17 23:49:50

Taipei, May 17 (CNA) The fatal shooting of a Taiwanese fishing boat by a Philippine government vessel may involve criminal conduct and violates the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Friday.

A joint patrol of the Philippine Coast Guard and the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources shot up a Taiwanese fishing boat, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28, while it was operating in the overlapping economic zones of the two countries on May 9.

Sixty-five-year-old Hung Shih-cheng of Pingtung County was killed in the attack.

This may constitute homicide, as the incident happened in the Republic of China's (ROC's) exclusive economic zone (EEZ), the ministry said in a statement.

Offenses committed on board a vessel or aircraft of the Republic of China (Taiwan) outside the territory of the ROC (which includes its EEZs) shall be considered an offense committed within the territory, the ministry said.

The ROC has jurisdiction over cases involving foreign nationals who have committed offenses, punishable by at least three years in jail, against ROC nationals outside the territory of the ROC, the statement said.

According to paragraph 1 of Article 73 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal State may safeguard its sovereign rights by taking necessary measures, including boarding, inspection, arrest and judicial proceedings.

This does not include, however, the use of armed force, such as the firing of weapons, the statement said.

In addition, Article 74 of the UNCLOS states that the delimitation of the exclusive economic zone between states with opposite or adjacent coasts should be effected by agreement on the basis of international law.

If no agreement can be reached, the states concerned should, in a spirit of understanding and cooperation, enter into provisional arrangements of a practical nature.

The Philippines signed the UNCLOS in 1982, and further ratified it in 1984. Taiwan is not a signatory to the agreement because it is not a member of the United Nations, but it respects the convention's terms the Foreign Ministry said.

The convention took effect in 1994, and the Philippines is obliged to abide by its stipulations when handling related matters, according to the ministry.

"The Philippines should shoulder its legal responsibilities accordingly," the ministry said.

(By James Lee)