Statement on behalf of the Committee of Legal Experts on UN Sanctions Against Libya

Vienna, 3 September 1998/P/K/16104c-is

The Committee of Legal Experts on UN Sanctions Against Libya was established at the initiative of the International Progress Organization in 1992 and presented several proposals for the settlement of the dispute between the USA, the UK and Libya in conformity with international law. The Committee was the first international group to propose, in its Declaration of 23 May 1992, the setting up of an international crinrinal tribunal to judge the Lockerbie suspects. A delegation of the Committee held consultations with the President of the Security Council after its meeting in New York on 2 December 1994. The initial Memorandum of the International Progress Organization on the legal aspects of the Lockerbie dispute was circulated as official document of the Security Council and the General Assembly (Doc. A/46/886, S/23641 of 23 February 1992). The Committee today issued the following Statement on the Security Council resolution of 28 August 1998 concerning the trial of the suspects in the Netherlands:

2. In its New York Declaration of 1 December 1994, the Committee of Legal Experts stated that the two suspects "have a basic human right under international law to a fair trial before an impartial tribunal."

3. In the same Declaration, the Committee of Legal Experts furthermore suggested to submit the question of criminal responsibility to an ad hoc international criminal tribunal or to a criminal tribunal of Scottish judges meeting at the seat of the International Court of Justice (as proposed by the League of Arab States).

5. As called for repeatedly by the Committee of Legal Experts, a criminal tribunal on this case should either be international in its composition or should operate in an international framework such as that of the International Court of Justice. The procedural details should be worked out on the basis of the Statute of the International Court of Justice and not through bilateral agreements between the governments of the UK and the Netherlands as stipulated in Art. 3 of the Security Council resolution.

6. The Scottish legal system is undoubtedly up to international standards of due process and fair trial. There is no reason to doubt the report (Doc. S/1997/991) of the independent experts appointed by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on the Scottish judicial system. The real issue is not whether Scottish law is applied or not, but whether a tribunal exclusively consisting of Scottish judges can meet the requirement of impartiality.

9. As Libya has agreed to the trial of the two suspects on the territory of a neutral country (outside the territory of the US or the UK), an agreement on procedures of the Court, detention of the suspects etc. must be reached between all parties concerned.