House of Lords move on compensation for Libyan IRA victims

Former Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi
Former Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi

UUP peer Lord Empey will introduce a bill into the House of Lords on Monday that will seek to compensate victims of Libyan-sponsored terrorism from assets of the regime that have been frozen in the UK.

Former Libyan dictator Col Muammar Gaddafi supplied ship loads of weapons and semtex to the IRA during the Troubles, which were used to attack civilian and military British targets.

The Government has told MPs on the NI Affairs Committee that international law prevents it from using frozen Libyan assets in the UK.

Lord Empey said: “The Asset Freezing (compensation) Bill is designed to allow compensation to be paid to victims of Gaddafi-supplied weapons and explosives from the large-scale assets that have been frozen in the United Kingdom. There is believed to be in the region of £9.5bn of Gaddafi family assets alone.

“We have not given up on trying to get some level of support for the victims of Gaddafi, wherever they live in the United Kingdom. I have been pursuing this issue with HM Government since 2002 and I hope that this bill can right the wrong done by Tony Blair’s failure to secure compensation for victims when other countries succeeded.”

He said it was an all-party effort, a product of a group chaired by Andrew Rosindell MP and comprising members of the UUP, Labour, Conservatives and DUP.

“We have met with victims’ representatives and I had undertaken to introduce this Bill to the House of Lords,” he added.

Victims’ campaigner Willie Frazer said the aim will be to raise serious questions about why victims cannot seize a small portion of Libya assets frozen in the UK in order to compensate IRA victims who were killed and maimed with Libyan weaponry supplied to the IRA.

“We believe the main reason the assets are not being used at present is due to the lack of political will,” he said.

“But if the UK Government refuses to move on the assets then we will open up other routes for justice instead and look to take our case to the Hague. There is no doubt it was a war crime for Libya to supply arms and training to the IRA which then cost so many lives in Northern Ireland.”