Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr will visit Libya to personally push for the release of detained International Criminal Court (ICC) staff, including Australian lawyer Melinda Taylor, as global pressure builds on Tripoli over the arrests.
The delegation, including Australian Melinda Taylor and colleagues from Lebanon, Russia and Spain, were detained on June 7 as they helped the son of slain Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi choose a defense lawyer.
The team was detained in the town of Zintan are accused of smuggling documents to Seif al-Islam Qaddafi.
“It is Australia’s view that Ms. Taylor should be afforded consular access, and should no longer be detained,” Carr said on Monday, ahead of a visit to Libya for meetings with authorities.
“I am cautious about commenting on the specifics of the allegations, and have modest expectations from the talks today,” he added.
“But we will press the case that Ms. Taylor is in Libya under the mandate of the ICC and United Nations Security Council, and this mandate provides a legal immunity.”
Libyan prosecutors said they want to detain Taylor and Assaf for 45 days while they are investigated for allegedly passing documents to Seif al-Islam from his fugitive right-hand man Mohammed Ismail.
Australia has said the women should have been afforded the diplomatic protection while in Libya because they were doing work for the ICC.
Carr raised the issue directly with Libyan Foreign Minister Ashour bin Hayal on the sidelines of non-proliferation talks in Istanbul on Sunday, but said he had only “modest” expectations that the two women will be released.
The Hague-based ICC wants to try Seif, 39, for crimes against humanity.
On Friday, the U.N. Security Council expressed “serious concern” over Libya’s detention of the four.
It reminded Libyan authorities that they have to cooperate with the ICC under U.N. resolutions on the conflict last year that led to the overthrow of Muammar Qaddafi.