By George Grant.
Tripoli, 18 June:
Australia’s foreign minister, Bob Carr, arrived in Tripoli today for talks with the government about the detained . . .[restrict]International Criminal Court (ICC) lawyer Melinda Taylor.
Carr met with both Prime Minister Abdurrahman El-Kib and Foreign Minister Ashour Bin Khayal in a bid to step up pressure on the government to release Taylor, who is an Australian national, from custody in Zintan.
The minister is in the region for a meeting of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative in Istanbul, and for one-day meetings in Algeria and Morocco.
Carr said in a statement that he had “modest expectations” for today’s talks, because the government has made clear its intention to properly investigate Taylor’s case, which may take considerable time.
In spite of this, Carr said it was his intention to “press the case that Ms Taylor is in Libya under the mandate of the ICC and United Nations Security Council, and this mandate provides a legal immunity.”
In addition to bringing charges against Taylor and her Lebanese interpreter, Helene Assaf, the government is also understood to be challenging the ICC’s mandate in Libya. Under the Rome Statute of the ICC, the court is only entitled to investigate cases where the national authorities in a given jurisdiction are deemed either unable or unwilling to prosecute a case. The Libyan government contends that it is both willing and able to try Saif Al-Islam Qaddafi, and hence the ICC has no right to be involving itself in the case whatsoever.
The ICC’s mandate to investigate charges against Saif was originally provided by the United Nations Security Council, during last year’s revolution.
The significance of this contention, according to one informed source close to Carr, is that it may lead to the government’s challenging Taylor’s right to diplomatic immunity, which she currently holds by virtue of her status as an appointed representative of the ICC. “I’m not saying one could lead directly to the other”, the source said, “but things might start to head in that direction”.
A spokesman for Carr confirmed to the Libya Herald that the minister had yet to be provided with any evidence regarding the allegations, although he did not speculate as to whether or not the evidence actually exists.
The spokesman added that Carr had offered to mediate discussions between the ICC and the government, if that would help to expedite a speedy resolution to the matter, and Taylor’s release.