So Far, the “Apology” Hasn’t Helped

by Kevin Jon Heller

I obviously disagreed with the ICC’s decision to issue the non-apology apology, but I sincerely hoped that it would at least lead to Taylor’s release.  Unfortunately, Libya has given no indication that, having suitably humiliated both the Court and Bob Carr, it has any intention of releasing her:

Carr said Friday’s talks in the Hague between the ICC and Libyan authorities had resulted in a statement “that had the ICC expressing regret, effectively an apology for any misunderstandings”.

“It’s what we were after,” Carr told ABC television.

“The talks in The Hague between the ICC and the Libyan authorities, including their attorney-general, were very constructive.”

But he said the release of Taylor, who has been accused of carrying a pen camera and attempting to give Saif Al Islam a coded letter from his former right-hand man, Mohammad Esmail, and her colleagues was some way off.

“I think, and I regret to have to say it, that they (Libyan authorities) will need some time to work this through their political system,” he said.

Could Carr have handled the situation any worse?  After all, it was he who insisted that Libya would release Taylor if the ICC “apologized” for her actions.  Either Libya lied to him and he took its representations at face value or he simply assumed that an apology would lead to Taylor’s release.  Neither scenario makes him look very good.

Nor, unfortunately, is that all.  Reading between the lines of a recent Sky News report, it seems that Taylor is still under the control of the Zintan rebels, not the Libyan government:

Despite repeated requests, Ms Taylor has not been given the opportunity to call her family back in Australia.

“We are asking for this on at least a daily basis, sometimes twice a day,” Senator Carr told ABC Radio on Monday.

“I think it’s clear to say that the deputy foreign minister in Libya is somewhat embarrassed that they have not been able to deliver.”

Senator Carr said that position pointed to clouded lines of communication in Libya, although he did not want to say too much about the issue.

“I think our response has got to be muted during a delicate time.”

The ICC had indicated it would investigate the behaviour of its legal team.

Senator Carr said with that statement the central government may be better positioned to make the phone call possible.

Negotiations for the team’s release through the “fragile and complex” political system in Libya could take some time.

Carr’s statements are disturbing on a number of levels.  To begin with, they indicate his complete failure as a diplomat: Carr not only can’t get Libya to release Taylor, he can’t even get them to let her make a phone call.  And, of course, the lesson he learns from his failures is that the response to Libya’s obscene actions must be “muted” — because as we all know, the only way to deal with a bully is to quietly give him your lunch money and hope that he doesn’t ask for it again tomorrow.

The control issue, however, is even more disturbing.  If Libya cannot convince the rebels to let Taylor make a phone call, why should we believe that it can get them to release her?  (Assuming, of course, that at some point it decides it wants to.)  Did Carr even think about that issue before embarrassing the ICC into issuing its credibility-killing statement?

I wish I knew what the Court and the international community could do to ensure Taylor’s speedy release.  But it’s clear that the present approach, which relies heavily on Australia’s incompetent Foreign Minister, isn’t working.

http://opiniojuris.org/2012/06/25/so-far-the-apology-hasnt-helped/

3 Responses

  1. Kevin
    I totally afree with you. I begin to deeply dislike Carr… But as far as I know he was not invited in the Hague to mediate between the ICC and the Lybian. So he can just assume as nobody the meeting was constructive.
    I still hope ICc statement will trigger the release of Melinda in the next 2 weeks….

  2. So, Zintan authorities clearly break international law by making an arbitrary detention of someone with diplomatic immunity while Libyan authorities have no control over the prisoners. In this situation, I don’t understand how Carr could think that an apology to Libya (instead of Zintan) would help to release the prisoners.
    Now we have a strange situation: a country breaks international law and still receives an apology from the part that represents the victims?! I’ve never seen that in the history of international law! And the apology just contributed to make situation even worst because it shows a weak and incoherent ICC, who doesn’t seem willing to do much to defend its own employees. Definitively, ICC and Carr couldn’t have dealt with the situation in a way worse than this.

  3. I think ICC and Australia government should make pressure to persuade Security Council to approve a resolution stating that Libya broke international law by making this detention and that the country should release immediately the prisoners. They could also include a sentence saying it’s up to ICC to investigate (and punish, if necessary) Taylor.
    That seems the most coherent way to deal with this situation.

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