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VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte mistakes ex-UN rights chief for ICC president

President Rodrigo Duterte identified the wrong leader when he ranted about the International Criminal Court (ICC).


In a Dec. 5 speech at an awarding ceremony for overseas Filipino workers, Duterte railed at the ICC anew, questioning its structure, its legal process and the background of its judges. He said:

“The chairman of that ICC commission is the brother of the King of Jordan.”

Source: Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organizations Overseas and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration 2018 Model OFW Family of the Year Awards, Dec. 5, 2018, watch from 26:01 to 26:10


Duterte is wrong.

The ICC is chaired by Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji, a Nigerian lawyer who was elected in March to serve as the court’s president for three years, replacing Judge Silvia Fernández de Gurmendi.

Duterte confused Eboe-Osuji with Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, the cousin—not the brother—of Jordan’s King Abdullah II Ibn Al Hussein and the former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR).

Unlike the OHCHR, the ICC, an independent judicial body created by the Rome Statute, is not part of the UN.

Zeid, whose term as UN rights chief ended in August, earned Duterte’s ire when he suggested that the president submit himself to a psychiatric examination after the Philippine government linked Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, UN’s special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, to communist rebels.

In 2002, Zeid served as the first president of the Assembly of States Parties (ASP), the management oversight and legislative body of the ICC.

Both the ICC and the ASP were established under the Rome Statute but operate as separate bodies.

The ICC investigates, prosecutes and tries individuals accused of committing genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes and crimes of aggression.

The ASP provides oversight, elects the court’s judges and prosecutors and approves the budget.

In March, the Philippines withdrew from the ICC after it launched a preliminary examination on the government over the thousands of killings arising from the government’s war on drugs.

Despite this, the ICC has announced Dec. 5 it has continued to “gather, receive and review information” on the alleged crimes from a wide range of sources.

In the same speech, Duterte repeated at least four false claims previously fact-checked by VERA Files.

First, that the European Union created the ICC, which was established by the Rome Statute. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Duterte falsely claims the EU created the ICC)

Second, that Japan got the “greatest” aid after World War II, which could not have been possible based on official data. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: In one speech, Duterte unloads 9 false claims)

Third, that the Philippines has no oil despite the presence of an oil field that started commercial production as early as 1979. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: In one speech, Duterte unloads 9 false claims)

Last, that 3,000 policemen and soldiers have been killed in the drug war, higher than his figure of 700 in November and 1,000 in August. (See VERA FILES FACT CHECK: In one speech, Duterte unloads 9 false claims)


BBC, The race to succeed Kofi Annan

GMA News Online, Jordanian King called ex-UN rights exec a fake, Duterte says, Sept. 27, 2018, For telling him to see a psychiatrist, Duterte says he almost lashed out at Jordanian prince, Sept. 27, 2018

International Criminal Court, Assembly of States Parties

International Criminal Court, How the court works

International Criminal Court, Judge Chile Eboe-Osuji

International Criminal Court, New ICC president elected for 2018-2021

International Criminal Court, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court

International Criminal Court, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Philippines: Withdrawal

The Embassy of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, His Majesty King Abdullah II

UN OHCHR, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein

United Nations, What is the International Criminal Court (ICC) and what is its relationship with the UN?


(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)

2018-12-15 17:58:19 UTC