Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has called on the UK Government to learn lessons from how the US Government deals with achieving compensation for relatives of citizens killed by terrorist attacks facilitated by a foreign country.
Lord Empey said:
“On 12th October 2000 the USS Cole, a US Navy guided missile destroyer, was attacked by suicide bombers of Al Qaeda while refuelling in Aden, Yemen.
''Seventeen sailors were killed and 39 injured. One of the first vessels to assist the stricken ship was HMS Marlborough, a Royal Navy frigate.
“A small boat carrying C4 explosives was steered into the side of USS Cole and detonated, blowing a large hole in the ship's side.
“It was announced last week - almost 20 years later - that the Government of Sudan was to pay $30 million in compensation to the relatives of those who died. Back in 2007 a US Court required that $13 million in frozen assets be paid to the relatives as well.
“It was determined that while the attack took place in Yemen, it was orchestrated from Sudan, and could not have succeeded were it not for support from that country.
“Compare and contrast that with the way the UK Government has dealt with the actions of Libya, where for over 30 years the government of that country, led by Col Gadaffi, waged war on the United Kingdom by supplying weapons, training, finance and Semtex explosives to the IRA.
“Only under extreme pressure from Parliamentarians and victims groups, London has been embarrassed into appointing a special representative, Mr William Shawcross, to look into the situation facing victims and to make recommendations.
“I welcome the fact that Mr Shawcross is to visit Northern Ireland next week, but what is needed is for HMG to drop the foolish idea that individuals should pursue the Libyans and determine from now on that the Government will do so itself on behalf of our victims and the United Kingdom as a whole, which suffered not only the losses from its armed forces and civilians, but huge damage to infrastructure and other assets.
“The contrast between the US and the UK could not be greater. While America has pursued those who attacked it until compensation was paid, the UK has done none of these things.
“I acknowledge and support the actions of HMG in trying, via the United Nations, to find a settlement to the conflict in Libya, and see a proper government established, but none of that relieves London of the responsibility to ensure that this country and its victims are properly and justly treated and compensation secured for the injured and relatives of the dead.”