Any attempt by the British government to use frozen Libyan assets in England to compensate IRA victims of weapons and explosives smuggled into Northern Ireland from Libya would be in breach of United Nations resolutions, a senior Libyan diplomat has insisted.
As an Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) Bill proceeds through Westminster to allow a portion of about £10-12 billion (€11.4 – €13.6 billion) of frozen assets to be used to assist IRA victims, the Libyan chargé d’affaires to the, UN Elmahdi S Elmajerbi stated that such action would be legally, ethically and morally wrong.
“The [Libyan] government of national accord is confident that the government of the United Kingdom will uphold its responsibility to stop such a Bill,” said Mr Elmajerbi in a letter to the UN Security Council.
Lord Empey of the UUP who introduced the private members’ Bill and DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who has campaigned for several years to try to win some £1.5 billion (€1.71 billion) in compensation from the Libyan authorities for IRA victims, have acknowledged that Mr Elmajerbi appears to be correct in his legal interpretation.
Lord Empey, however, argued that the British government could use its veto on the security council to gain commitments about compensation before it would agree to the unfreezing of the Libyan assets in England.
Mr Elmajerbi said a number of UN resolutions dictated that such frozen assets when released must be used “for the benefit of the people of Libya”
“The passing of such a Bill is a clear violation of the related Security Council resolution and would place the government of the United Kingdom in breach of its obligations under security council resolutions,” he added.
Lord Empey’s Bill has passed through the House of Lords and is due to be addressed in the House of Commons later this month.
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