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Libyan Assets

Volume 538: debated on Tuesday 17 January 2012

The United Kingdom continues to play a leading part in working with the Libyan authorities on the recovery of assets through the alleviation of sanctions. On 16 December, the United Nations was able to lift the sanctions on the Central Bank of Libya and on the Libyan Arab Foreign bank, which released some £6.5 billion worth of assets in Britain alone for the use of the Libyan people.

I am grateful to the Minister for that reply. In October last year, the Foreign Secretary noted in a letter that

“the countries of the Arab League will play an important part in providing the support the Libyan Government requires to rebuild the Libyan economy”.

Will the Minister tell us what recent assessment he and his Department have made of the contribution of the Arab League member countries to the economic recovery in Libya to date, and what form he expects it to take in the future?

The Arab League, in conjunction with the rest of the international community, played a vital part in ensuring the freedom of the people of Libya, and that support continues to be evident. The Libyan Government are establishing themselves and building their capacity to handle the recovery of assets and to determine the way in which they can be used. Accordingly, they are in discussions with ourselves and with Arab League partners, which are being effective. This is a process in which we are all engaged.

One of the problems with liberal imperialist wars is that once they are over, we lose interest in their victims. I have already drawn attention to the United Nations report on the plight of the 7,000 prisoners who are being held by the current Libyan Government in the most appalling conditions and undergoing torture and many other dreadful things. What are this Government doing about that?

This Government do not lose sight of the victims of this conflict. The conditions of those in detention have been raised by Ministers on visits, and directly with the Libyan Government. It is a matter for them to be able to create the processes to determine the future of those detainees. The commitment to human rights is absolute, regardless of how those in Libya were taken prisoner, captured or anything else. The United Kingdom stands four square behind that, and so does the national transitional council, which has made clear its own concerns, as well as its determination to deal with the issue of detainees through appropriate free and fair judicial processes as quickly as possible.