Belfast Telegraph

Libya rejects use of frozen assets to pay IRA victims

By Brett Campbell

The Libyan government has rejected proposals championed by former Ulster Unionist leader Lord Empey which would allow frozen assets in the UK to be used to compensate IRA victims, it has been reported.

The latest development is a devastating set-back for victims and survivors who have been calling for the UK Government to support a Bill seeking to secure money from assets linked to the late Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The Private Member's Bill was introduced by Lord Empey, Andrew Rosindell MP and Jim Fitzpatrick MP in an attempt to secure a percentage of Gaddafi's frozen UK assets, which are estimated to be worth £12bn. It is due to receive its second reading in the House of Commons this Friday. But Libya's interim government - the Faiez Serraj Presidency Council/Government of National Accord (PC/GNA) - stated that the initial decision to freeze Libya's assets was an international decision taken under Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter and obliges all states, including the UK, to observe it.

The assets were frozen as part of sanctions agreed by the Security Council in 2011. The PC concluded its statement by saying that it would resort to all legal and diplomatic means to oppose this decision and stressed that any move to unfreeze assets would be in contravention of international law.

It branded it a dangerous step and a transgression of Libya's sovereignty, according to the Libya Herald. The PC also considered it a precedent that other states may use to access assets of other states in the future.

The Gaddafi regime provided the IRA with weaponry and financial assistance during the Troubles.

US passport holders who were injured as a result of IRA atrocities while in the UK have already received substantial compensation from Gaddafi, as have victims from France and Germany.

The PC pointed out that it considered the matter of the IRA and the previous Gaddafi regime had been dealt with in the past and that the Libyan government had cooperated with Britain to end this matter and commenced normalised relations after years of separation.

The PC also called on the UN Security Council and its sanctions committee to honour obligations to protect Libya's assets abroad.

Belfast Telegraph

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