You are here:

House of Commons Library

Compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism

Published Wednesday, May 9, 2018

A Backbench Business debate on Compensation for victims of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism is scheduled for Thursday 10 May 2018. The Member leading the debate is Laurence Robertson MP.

Jump to full report >>

The subject for this debate was determined by the Backbench Business Committee. The motion is:

That this House calls on the Government to take steps to obtain the required international authority to use a proportion of the assets of the Libyan Government that were frozen in the UK to compensate the relatives of people murdered and injured as a result of Libyan-sponsored IRA terrorism and to fund community support programmes in areas affected by that terrorism.

Background

During the 1970s, 80s and 90s, several terrorist attacks carried out by the IRA were facilitated by the supply of weapons from the Gaddafi regime in Libya, including the explosive Semtex. For a number of years victims of these attacks have been seeking compensation from the Libyan authorities, thus far without success.

In July 2015 the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee launched an inquiry into the role of the UK Government in seeking compensation for UK victims of Libyan sponsored IRA attacks.

The Committee published its report, HM Government support for UK victims of IRA attacks that used Gaddafi-supplied Semtex and weapons, in May 2017. It concluded that the UK Government had missed a number of opportunities to secure compensation for victims, and recommended that the next Government should enter into direct negotiations with the Libyan authorities to seek a compensation deal. In the event that successful negotiations proved unlikely in the short or medium term, the Committee recommended that the Government should establish and finance a reparations fund ahead of the outcome of such negotiations.

The Government responded in September 2017, stating that it did not consider a reparation fund to be a viable option, and that it considered compensation claims to be private matters for which the FCO provides facilitation to victims to engage with the Libyan authorities.

In May 2016 Lord Empey introduced the Asset Freezing (Compensation) Bill. The Bill sought to enable the Government to use the frozen assets of persons involved in supplying terrorist organisations in the UK in order to compensate victims of those organisations.

A similar Bill was reintroduced following the 2017 general election and had its second reading in October of that year.

Responding to the second reading debate for the Government, Lord Ahmad explained that the Bill would place the Government in breach of its obligations under international law, but committed to continue raising the issue with the Libyan Administration.

The Bill completed its passage in the House of Lords and was introduced to the House of Commons in February 2018. It is due to have second reading on 15 June. 

Commons Debate packs CDP-2018-0117

Authors: Joanna Dawson; Sarah Pepin

Topic: Terrorism

Share this page

Stay up to date

House of Commons Library

The House of Commons Library provides research, analysis and information services for MPs and their staff.