Terror victims ask UN secretary General to release Gaddafi assets

United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Survivors of the IRA Canary Wharf bombing have written to the United Nations Secretary General asking him to release assets linked to Col Gaddafi to compensate them for their injuries.

The late Libyan dictator Col Gaddafi supplied major amounts of Semtex, weapons and funding to the IRA. Some £10bn of assets linked to him are currently frozen under UN directive in the UK.

Last month UN Secretary-General António Guterres announced the UN ‘International Day of Remembrance of, and Tribute to, the Victims of Terrorism’, marking the 15th anniversary of the bombing of the UN Baghdad compound, on 19 August in 2003, which claimed 22 lives.

Mr Guterres said: “Caring for victims and survivors and amplifying their voices helps to challenge the narrative of hatred and division that terrorism aims to spread. We need to provide victims with long-term assistance, including financial, legal, medical and psychosocial support.”

Jonathan Ganesh, President of the Docklands victims Association (DVA), who was himself seriously injured in the 1996 IRA London bomb, said he wrote to Mr Guterres in light of his words on the new UN day of remembrance.

“On behalf of all the victims of the Troubles, we have asked the UN to immediately intervene in assisting the victims of Gaddafi sponsored terrorism in mainland GB, the Republic of Ireland and NI by releasing a percentage of Gaddafi’s assets being held in the UK to his victims, many of whom are still suffering with severe physical and mental health conditions,” Mr Ganesh said.

Libya paid substantial compensation to American, German and French victims of terror attacks it sponsored.

But in 2017 the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster accused successive UK governments of having failed to secure the same for UK victims.

The UK government insists it cannot tap the assets without UN permission, a claim challenged by UK victims’ lawyers. However Mr Ganesh used the occasion of the new UN remembrance day to approach the UN directly.

“The DVA have emphasised to the UN Secretary General that on the 5th of April 2011 the chairman of the on behalf of the National Transitional government of Libya Mr Mustafa Abdul Jalil in Benghazi signed an agreement to help those that had been impacted by the Troubles,” Mr Ganesh said.

“In addition, we have also expressed to the UN Secretary General the appalling lack of equality with US, France and German victims of Gaddafi sponsored terrorism having been compensated, whilst those in mainland GB, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland are still suffering with severe physical and mental health conditions.”

Lord Empey, who has been pushing legislation through Parliament to enable the assets to be tapped, said it was “an excellent imitative... more than our own government has done in 30 years!”.

He added: “It is certainly going to the right place and the right people, because the UN is where the initial blockage was in freezing these assets.”