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Precedent shows Philippine attack violation of international law

Precedent shows Philippine attack violation of international law

Taipei, May 23 (CNA) Legal precedent shows that the fatal May 9 attack on a Taiwanese fishing boat by a Philippine government vessel was a violation of international law, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). "The use of excessive force to intercept and inspect foreign vessels that results in injury or death, is a violation of international law and practice," the MOFA's Foreign Press Liaison for the Fishing Boat Incident said in a recent press release. "The country responsible cannot justify its actions as self-defense or enforcement of the law," it added. The incident killed 65-year-old Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng in waters south of Taiwan's Pingtung County, while the fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was operating in an overlapping exclusive economic zone between the two neighboring countries. According to paragraph 1 of Article 73 of the U.N. convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), a coastal state can 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, and penalties may not include corporal punishment, according to paragraph 3 of the same article. Legal precedent includes incidents between a U.S. Coast Guard ship and a Canadian-registered liquor-smuggling boat in 1929, a British trawler and a Danish fisheries protection vessel in 1961 and a Republic of Guinea patrol boat and a coastal tanker flying the flag of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the press team said. 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 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. A separate leaflet produced by the same liaison body says that "Philippine excuses cannot hide the facts" and that the 15-ton Taiwanese fishing boat had no signs of provoking the incident by attempting to ram the coast guard vessel while evading arrest. Given that the Philippine vessel is more than six times the size of the Taiwanese boat and that the Philippine patrol strafed the fishing boat with more than a dozen automatic rifles and a machine gun, leaving it with more than 50 bullet holes, "it is inappropriate for the Philippine government to describe Hong's killing as an `unintended loss of life' while the investigation is ongoing," the leaflet says. "This characterization is an affront and strongly suggests a refusal to take responsibility for the tragedy," it adds. (By James Lee)


Updated : 2021-05-09 00:25 GMT+08:00