Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 17:16 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 17:16 | SYDNEY

The Melinda Taylor case: Implications


Alex Oliver


6 August 2012 13:48

Almost exactly one month ago today, Melinda Taylor, a lawyer with the International Criminal Court, was released from custody by the Libyan authorities who had arrested and detained her in Zintan for 26 days in June and July. Ms Taylor was in Libya in the course of her official duties representing Muammar Qhadhafi's son, Saif al-Islam, who stands accused of war crimes during the Libyan revolution.

Ms Taylor's detention, and the manner in which the Australian Government secured her release, throw up some important principles of international law and the practice of diplomacy. In this brief video snapshot, I outline these principles — the right to consular access, the immunity from detention and prosecution held by international civil servants — and discuss how these rights were treated by the Libyan authorities, by the Australian Government and our new foreign minister, and by the ICC itself.

This was an extremely sensitive and important case, involving risk to the life and liberty of an Australian citizen. The heavy involvement of Bob Carr, however, may have significant implications for the conduct of Australia's diplomacy in the future, and place even more strain on Australia's capacity to manage its consular burden.