FACT CHECK: Duterte wrongly claims ICC judges are all ‘white’

Pia Ranada
FACT CHECK: Duterte wrongly claims ICC judges are all ‘white’
But there are African and Asian judges, including a Filipino, in the International Criminal Court

MANILA, Philippines – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte lashed out against the International Criminal Court (ICC), this time claiming its judges are all Caucasians and thus are likely pedophiles.

Sabi ko, sino yung mga judges ninyo diyan? Bakit, kasama ba kami pagpili itong mga gago, putanginang puti na ‘yan? Baka ito pedophile, ganyan karamihan sa kanila,” he said on Friday, November 16 at Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea.

(I said, who are your judges there? Why, were we there when those fools were chosen, those sons of bitches whites? Maybe this one is a pedophile, most of them are.)

Duterte made this claim after insisting he “does not recognize ICC” because it is “a creation of EU (European Union).”

The ICC is currently examining if it has jurisdiction over a complaint filed before it accusing Duterte of crimes against humanity because of his bloody crackdown on illegal drugs. Two complaints have been filed against Duterte with the ICC.

“Why would I allow myself to be tried by a few idiots, human beings of this world? Yung prosecutor niyo, yung putot na itim, taga saan ba iyon?” he said, referring to ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda who hails from Gambia.

(That prosecutor of yours, the short black one, where does she come from?)

Though Duterte said ICC judges are “white,” a look at ICC’s website shows ICC judges are of various races and hail from different countries.

One of them is even Filipino, Judge Raul Pangalangan. Judge Antoine Kesia-Mbe Mindua is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Judge Chang-ho Chung is from South Korea, Judge Chile Eboi-Osuji is Nigerian.

In fact, the website shows that out of the 20 ICC judges, 10 or half the number of members are non-Caucasian.

Two of the ICC’s top officials are African – Eboi-Osuji, ICC president, is Nigerian. Bensouda, chief prosecutor, is Gambian.

False: Philippines not involved in choosing judges

Duterte also scoffed that the Philippines has nothing to do with choosing ICC judges. 

“Bakit, kasama ba kami pagpili itong mga gago, putang inang puti na ‘yan? (Why, were there when those fools were chosen, those sons of bitches whites?) he had asked. 


But the Philippines, having been a state party to the Rome Statute which created the ICC, has been involved in selecting judges. According to ICC rules, state parties have one representative in the Assembly of State Parties. It’s this body that elects ICC judges and prosecutors.

Duterte also falsely claimed that Jordanian prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is the “chairman of ICC.”

 “Then the chairman of the ICC is the sibling of the King of Jordan. He said I need to go to a psychiatrist,” said Duterte in Filipino.

Zeid used to be the United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights but was never ICC chairman. There is no such position as the ICC’s top officials are its president and prosecutor. Zeid is also the cousin, not the brother, of King Abdullah II of Jordan. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.