BIDEN Bill to Compensate Victims of Libyan Terrorism Passes Senate
Legislation sponsored by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Joseph R. Biden, Jr. (D-DE) to fairly compensate and resolve pending claims by U.S. victims of Libyan terrorism passed the Senate today. The bill - the Libyan Claims Resolution Act (S. 3370) - passed by unanimous consent and is cosponsored by the Committee's Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) and Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), John Warner (R-VA), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Carl Levin (D-MI) and George Voinovich (R-OH).
"This legislation will help bring justice and closure to the victims of Libyan terrorism," said Senator Joe Biden. "The families of the victims of the Pan Am 103 attack, the victims of the LaBelle disco attack and the victims of many other heinous acts of terrorism by Libya - who have waited for decades - will now be finally and fairly compensated."
There are numerous pending claims in terrorism-related cases against Libya that need resolution. Leading members of Congress have made clear that the U.S.-Libyan relationship should not proceed to a closer level of cooperation unless these cases are resolved and payments are made to U.S. victims of Libyan acts of terrorism. The cases include Pan Am 103, the bombing of the LaBelle disco in Berlin, attacks on Egypt Air and UTA (a French airline) and the attack at the Rome Airport in 1985. The Department of State has negotiated an agreement with Libya on a means to resolve these cases that will allow fair compensation in cases of wrongful death and personal injury. The compensation will be substantial, and will not involve any U.S. taxpayer funds. This legislation is a necessary part of that agreement.
The two cases in which there is a negotiated settlement (Pan Am 103 and LaBelle) would be paid at the full amount of the settlement agreement. In all other cases, the death and physical injury cases involving U.S. nationals would receive compensation at levels comparable to those made available to Pan Am 103 and LaBelle victims and victims' families. Resolving these claims now will assure prompt payment to these victims, rather than years of litigation, and an uncertain prospect of collecting on judgments. Libya will not make payment until it is assured that claims are resolved and it will not face further action in U.S. courts, which this legislation provides. But the United States still holds the final key - the normal legal immunities in U.S. courts will not be restored to Libya until adequate funds are provided. If Libya does not fulfill its part of the bargain, nothing changes and the cases can proceed in U.S. courts.