HOST: The International Criminal Court lawyer and three of her colleagues were detained on the 7th of June after meeting the son of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Libya alleges she was carrying documents that were judged a national security threat. Foreign Minister Bob Carr spoke to Alexandra Kirk from the plane, just a short time after landing in Tripoli.
BOB CARR: Every time I've spoken to representatives of the Government -the Assistant Foreign Minister yesterday in Istanbul, the Foreign Minister today – I've pressed the case for Consular access.
We'd like David Ritchie to be able to see Melinda Taylor more regularly. We'd like her to be able to phone her husband Geoff in The Hague, whom I've spoken with this morning, and her parents, John and Janelle, in Brisbane.
I'm going to continue to press that with the people I meet here and I hope that by underlining that on this visit we get some progress out of it.
Progress is to see her judiciously released so she can be reunited with Geoff in The Hague. But in the shorter term, if she's going to continue in detention, we see that she's got that Consular access and capacity to phone her family.
KIRK: Do you think that eyeballing ministers in Tripoli will make a difference?
BOB CARR: I've got modest expectations, but I'm here to press the case, the case of the Australian Government that she was- Melinda Taylor was- here working for a respected international organisation – the International Criminal Court – that that work attracts immunity. That role ought to be respected. The ICC is here under the umbrella of the United Nations under Security Council Resolution 1970 last year and again, that commands respect.
KIRK: From your discussions thus far, does Libya accept the role of the International Criminal Court and the job that it has to do including that it represents some of the people that it wants to bring to the Court?
BOB CARR: As I press the case for Melinda Taylor and meet ICC and Libyan representatives today, I will get a clearer view of that.
But my advice is that there is a dispute between the Government and the ICC about how representatives of the Gaddafi dictatorship are to be treated. How their trials are to be processed.
Libya is arguing that it is actively investigating Gaddafi for the same – and indeed additional – crimes, and the same underlying conduct that form the basis of the ICC proceedings. And under Article 17 of the Rome Statute, which establishes the Court, the Court may only exercise jurisdiction in circumstances where national judicial systems are unwilling or unable to investigate or prosecute – based on the principle of complementarity.
So there is a broader well-rehearsed dispute here and that is the dispute that Melinda Taylor has inadvertently become involved in.
She is doing her duty for the ICC, but the Libyan authorities, and none more than the authorities in Zintan, are contesting the right of the ICC to do that.
KIRK: And have you been given any indication that Australia will get access to Melinda Taylor again in the near future?
BOB CARR: I've spoken to David Ritchie, our Ambassador here, for some days now and he hasn't given me that assurance. We will continue to press for that. I pressed it with the Libyan Foreign Minister who I met in Istanbul yesterday, Sunday, and I'll press it again today.
KIRK: What do they say to you? 'Yes I hear you, but sorry, no can do'?
BOB CARR: I don't think I really help Melinda's case by going into details of those exchanges, but rest assured that consular access, plus being able to phone her family members, is our most immediate priority.
If she's going to be detained while there is an investigatory process underway we would want her to enjoy that comforting level of consular access in the meantime.
KIRK: Bob Carr, thank you
BOB CARR: My pleasure.
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