The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutors have rejected calls to investigate China’s treatment of its Uyghur population because the country is not a signatory of the Hague-based justice body, the chief prosecutor’s office said on Monday.
Exiled Uyghurs have handed a huge dossier of evidence to the court in July accusing China of locking more than one million Uyghurs and other mostly Muslim minorities in re-education camps.
They also presented evidence of forced sterilisation of women and conscripting camp detainees into forced labour in factories all over China.
In its annual report, the office of prosecutor Fatou Bensouda said it was unable to act because the alleged acts happened on the territory of China, which is not a signatory to The Hague-based ICC.
Bensouda’s office went on to say that “this precondition for the exercise of the court’s territorial jurisdiction did not appear to be met with respect to the majority of the crimes alleged”.
On separate claims of forced deportations of Uyghurs back to China from Tajikistan and Cambodia, the ICC report said that “there was also no basis to proceed at this time”.
The Uyghurs had argued that even though the alleged deportations did not happen on Chinese soil, the ICC could act because they happened on Tajik and Cambodian territory, and both of them are ICC members.
Lawyers for the Uyghurs had now asked the court to reconsider “on the basis of new facts or evidence”, the ICC prosecutor’s report said.
China has called the accusations baseless and says the facilities in the northwestern Xinjiang region are job training centres aimed at steering people away from terrorism.
The ICC has no obligation to consider complaints filed to the prosecutor, who can decide independently what cases to submit to judges at the court, set up in 2002 to achieve justice for the world’s worst crimes. (Source: CNA)