By Sami Zaptia.
London, 24 March 2021:
The UK government has ruled out using frozen Libyan assets to compensate IRA victims injured by weapons and Semtex supplied by the Qaddafi regime.
In a written statement to parliament on Tuesday, Minister for the Middle East and North Africa James Cleverly, explained why the UK government is legally unable to access £12bn in frozen Libyan assets to compensate the victims.
Cleverly said the “frozen assets may not be seized by the UK government”.
He added there were “clear practical difficulties in obtaining” compensation from Libya because of the ongoing political and economic instability.
There had been fears by Libya that the UK government would take advantage of the instability, disunity and confusion in Libya to grab compensation from frozen Libyan funds within the UK for Northern Irish IRA victims.
This would have set a precedent to all states and companies seeking claims of compensation or unpaid debts from Libya. It would have questioned the whole moral basis for the UN freezing Libya’s assets abroad ‘‘for the benefit of the Libyan people’’.
It will be recalled that in February this year the UN rejected Belgium’s request to unfreeze part of the Libyan Investment Authority’s assets to settle alleged debts of other Libyan entities.