It’s not the first thing you’d expect to hear from a woman who’s endured three weeks under arrest in Libya, but Melinda Taylor’s mother this morning said her “foodie” daughter had enjoyed the meals provided by her jailers.

I wonder if they'll bring us some more of that Libyan herb bread. Photo:

Libyan delights like chipotle, olives and hummus might seem like a strange thing to be so front-of-mind when you’re stuck in the middle of a full-blown crisis, but at least Taylor was looking on the bright side of life.

It’s also a heartening, practical and sensible reaction to what’s been an incredible situation for the Australian lawyer and her family, and they should be commended for the way they’ve dealt with everything.

Melinda Taylor only expected to be in Libya for a week but has ended up playing a starring role in the first real diplomatic crisis faced by the country since its recent revolution.

It’s hard to imagine what the past three weeks have felt like for Melinda Taylor, but the reaction of her family back home in Brisbane has been inspiring in its calm, rational and practical approach to what has clearly been a very uncertain and anxious time.

Taylor’s mother Janelle told media over the weekend the family the family had “gone off alcohol” as a way to support their daughter. And since news of her release, have been at pains to convey their gratitude to Bob Carr and the Government for their efforts in bringing her to safety.

It’s a heartening and inspiring reaction that is frankly, a much needed example for other people in times of crisis, particularly an international situation that requires lengthy negotiations.

The Taylors have shown the importance of keeping out of the spotlight when unfortunately time, money, energy and emotion can be so easily wasted, no matter how good the intentions.

Fact is, you never know when a situation like this one could arise but as Taylor and her family have shown, by being as calm and reasonable as possible can make all the difference to the end result.

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    • chuck says:

      11:04am | 03/07/12

      Seems rather unusual sending a female into an Islamist hot bed of revolution to represent a man (not her husband) in the first place.
      The ICC appears to be just plain ignorant and Taylor yet another fast tracking female lawyer who apparently is quite cavalier in flaunting what are rather obvious points of client privilege (if what we have been told in the press is true).
      So the Taylor’s have sworn off alcohol. That’s not the only thing they should have sworn off!
      I wonder if Julian Assange’s mum can ever be in a position to thank Bob Carr and the government ?

    • Kate says:

      12:02pm | 03/07/12

      Good point Chuck about sending Melinda Taylor to Libya in the first place.

    • M says:

      01:35pm | 03/07/12

      As much as I want to disagree with you chuck, I can’t.

    • T-rev says:

      03:05pm | 03/07/12

      Just cause she is a lawyer doesn’t mean she is smart.

      The lack of common sense shown by her, and those who sent her into Libya, is quite astonishing.

      What did they think was going to happen?

    • Tom says:

      10:47am | 04/07/12

      T_rev, well said.

      Sending her in that role also says a lot about Australia’s lack of cultural sensitivity towards Muslim views in their own country.

    • marley says:

      01:16pm | 04/07/12

      @Tom - actually, it says nothing about Australia’s cultural sensitivity since we didn’t send her.  The ICC did.

    • Fiddler says:

      11:11am | 03/07/12

      lost count at the number of hyperbolic adjectives you put in there. She did 3 weeks in gaol and was probably treated very well by the government due to not wanting to offend foreign governments.

      Lets not get too carried away with what happened.

    • SapperK9 says:

      11:31am | 03/07/12

      I wonder at her “dress”?  When the Pan Am Bomber was tried in a Scots court, he was not obliged to wear a kilt!

    • Max Redlands says:

      11:35am | 03/07/12

      I heard Ms. Taylor’s mother on the radio this morning saying she (Melinda T.)  was surprised there had been a lot of media interest in her situation.

      If this is true she’s being either very niave or very disingenuous and given her role and responsibilities I am not sure which is worse.

    • Tom says:

      08:56am | 04/07/12

      Good call Max. .... “Whoops, I did it again”? .... or what about “All that fuss about little old me?”

    • Cat says:

      12:10pm | 03/07/12

      Melinda Taylor was, at best, naive. It is quite likely that she was also arrogant.
      I would not have gone into that situation if I had been carrying anything at all. I would have gone in with two interpreters - one chosen by me, one chosen by the other side. I would have been very, very cautious about what I said and even more cautious about what I asked.
      The time for questioning a suspect is when s/he has been removed under an international arrest warrant approved by the ICC and the country in question.
      I think the ICC legal team thought they were going to get away with it because of the fluid situation in Libya.
      Oh, and the mothers of young children should not be sent into such situations. I don’t care how sexist that sounds but the mother’s first responsibility has to be to her child.

    • Craig says:

      01:10pm | 03/07/12

      Rubbish on all counts. Melinda had the backing of the UN and was a qualified professional.

      Her husband was looking after their two year old.

      Women are not the only ones capable of looking after children and it really offends me as a male that you’d discriminate against her husband in such a blatant way.

      Melinda was doing something she believed in passionately, as a trained professional with international support.

      She was not naive, the Libyans involved with the detention were, and they have noe learnt better.

      Defending accused murderers and war criminals is not glamorous or idealistic, it is necessary to sustain a fair legal system.

    • Rose says:

      01:17pm | 03/07/12

      Oh, if only everyone was as clever a you!!

    • Andrew says:

      01:37pm | 03/07/12

      @Craig, sorry mate I would have to disagree with you on this one. Melinda was very naive and arrogant. @Cat is absolutely spot on.
      Yes, men can look after children. That is not the point here. The point is this - if you have children then there are some things you simply should not do - and Melinda did several of these. @Cat is right - first responsibility is to your child…child needs BOTH parents not to grow up with just one because Mummy or Daddy was too busy furthering their own career.

    • Josie Q. says:

      03:26pm | 03/07/12

      Cat is correct.  First consideration should be to your young child.  Obviously not the priority of this mother.
      Leave the vainglorious deeds to those who don’t have young children.

    • thistle says:

      04:08pm | 03/07/12

      “Fact is, you never know when a situation like this one could arise…....”.  Well, it’s fairly unlikely;  highly unlikely, if a mother is looking after her child, and not going into a situation which could deprive a two-year-old of its mother.  Choose.

      Someone cites “the backing of the UN”.  Wow.  “qualified professional”. Wow.  ‘qualified International professional’ Wow again
      Agree, Cat

    • marley says:

      04:09pm | 03/07/12

      @Cat -

      1.  No, you would not have gone into this situation with two interpreters, one chosen by the government.  If you’re a defence lawyer and you expect your communications with your clients will be privileged.  Defence lawyers don’t invite the prosecution to sit in on their private sessions with their clients.
      2.  You would have been cautious.  Perhaps.  But given that she had every right to believe that her visit had been cleared with the ICC through the Libyan government, and further that she had diplomatic immunity, I don’t see that she was unreasonable in expecting to be able to talk to her client without interference.
      3.  The time for questioning your client is when you meet him.  She wasn’t the prosecution, she was the defence. 
      4.  Whether the ICC was incompetent in clarifying their roles, I couldn’t say. But she should have been able to trust her bosses,don’t you think?
      5.  As for the issue of the child, she had no reason to expect the Libyans would ignore international conventions on diplomatic immunity.  We don’t criticise our soldiers for putting themselves into much greater risk, even though many of them have young kids;  why should we criticise her for doing something far less risky?

    • DavidT says:

      04:26pm | 03/07/12

      Er @Marley - the lady does not speak the language - and she would not have been allowed in without an interpreter even if she could. Interpreters are part of the deal in such situations. What is more the ICC knew the situation was dangerous.
      Cat is right on all counts.

    • marley says:

      06:38pm | 03/07/12

      @David - no, she had an interpreter with her. Cat is saying she should also have had a government interpreter.  I don’t think so.

      And the ICC claims to have had the agreement of the Libyan government to the meeting.  I think there was probably a major misunderstanding there, but nonetheless, there was some form of agreement.

      What is not in dispute is that she had diplomatic immunity. And whether you’re a Libyan official or some deputy sheriff from Texas, you do not arrest diplomats.

    • Tom says:

      09:02am | 04/07/12

      Craig, your clear message is that we wonderfully superior westerners have an unfettered right to impose our cultural views on Libyans in their country.

      Have you thought for one teeny nano-second about whether the Libyans views on women’s suitability for that role should have been considered?

    • Tim says:

      12:24pm | 03/07/12

      I agree, Lucy. Her parents have beed refreshingly dignified and matter of fact. Not something you see a lot of, sadly. Largely, it should be said, because people have been coached to emote in front of cameras/microphones. (And now, astonishingly, in parliament).

    • John says:

      12:36pm | 03/07/12

      How’s Al-Qaeda managing Libya? They doing a better job then President Gaddafi? NATO one day is bombing Al-Qaeda the next allied with them. I though I was insane, but this world is insane.

      Where’s the International Human Rights Courts? Didn’t like thousands of men get their body parts hacked off by NATO supported Al-Qaeda rebels? Why isn’t their an arrest warrant out for crimes against humanity? Why is the media so silent about this? Why isn’t the NATO commander in jail? wasn’t he the leader of this entire operation?

    • Craig says:

      01:06pm | 03/07/12

      So when can we expect the same attention and commitment from Carr to the other celebrity Australian accused of treason by another country?

      Carr’s actions only serve to draw into sharp relief the difference in their approach depending on who might be offended.

      Assange offended the US, so Gillard and Carr dare not provide more than the minimum support that they can get Way with.

      It makes me very uncomfortable to be an Australian travelling overseas to see how quickly our government abandons Aussies due to diplomatic convenience.

    • marley says:

      04:14pm | 03/07/12

      Oh bulldust.  Assange was brought to court in a western country with a strong legal tradition;  he had access to lawyers;  he was able to pursue his case through to the highest level of that court system.  He’s had his day in court. 

      That’s a bit different from someone who has been arrested by a dysfunctional element of a volatile country not noted for its rule of law, and arrested, moreover, in blatant violation of major international conventions on diplomatic immunity.

      Assange got the level of support I would expect an ordinary Australian citizen to get, which is to say, oversight to ensure that he had access to due process.  Which he did.

      Taylor’s mere detention was a violation, because of her diplomatic status.

      Two very different scenarios.

    • Juliar 3 ,2012 says:

      01:38pm | 03/07/12

      the optimistic and the positive people live longer than negative pessimistic depressive

    • Juliar 3 ,2012 says:

      01:38pm | 03/07/12

      the optimistic and the positive people live longer than negative pessimistic depressive

    • Steve says:

      01:41pm | 03/07/12

      I am sure we will all enjoy the refreshing lack of self-obsession and display of personal dignity from that of Julian Assange, our other international detainee/fugitive du jour.

    • Inky says:

      02:58pm | 03/07/12

      It’s easy to retain dignity when your government doesn’t hang you out to dry.

    • Steve says:

      04:34pm | 03/07/12

      @Inky, by “hang you out to dry” do you mean the not providing a SAS snatch squad to smuggle Assange out of the UK to avoid extradition to another Eurpoean country, which BTW has honest and functioning courts? 

      Or do you mean the lack of an international dummy-spit at the UK for having the temerity to actually hold the internationally-renown truth-teller Assange? 

      Perhaps Australia should have demanded that Assange be freed by the UK court system, because we all know that UK government ministers can just have international extradition proceedings dropped. NOT.

    • Ben says:

      05:33pm | 03/07/12

      Steve, “hang you out to dry” in this sense means that the Australian Government actually forced Assange to release all those cables. Right, Inky?

    • Stone age liberal says:

      11:51am | 04/07/12

      No what is meant by Hanging out to dry” is when our politician quite happily bend at the knee to kiss the US’s butt. Assange did nothing the NY Times didnt do. The Aust government should have come out swinging at the US the second they started talking about charges against Assange.

    • Daz says:

      03:17pm | 03/07/12

      I mean really, how dumb or naive are these people? To send someone into Libya at this time, to make sure the rights of the son of one of the most despotic, evil, corrupt, killing dictators ever, are duly respected just smaks of insensitivity and stupidity. What reaction did they think they were going to get from these people who have been tortured and suppressed by this family for years.

    • renold says:

      07:34pm | 03/07/12

      Pretty well much a whole lot of noise about nothing, would hardly have reached the news here if it wasn’t for the fact one of them was Australian

    • marley says:

      09:19pm | 03/07/12

      Well, not so sure about that - it was covered in the UK’s Guardian, after all.  And, I see, in the Canadian news as well.

    • rod sexton says:

      07:11pm | 04/07/12

      If she wants to play in the big league then she is free to do so; but these self-appointed saviours who get into trouble always yell for the Australian government when the proverbial hits.

    • marley says:

      08:41am | 05/07/12

      @rod sexton - she wasn’t a self appointed saviour, she was a lawyer working for an international organisation which sent her to Libya to do a job.  And it was the UN, more than Australia, that had responsibility, given her diplomatic status.


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