The United Nations will investigate the existence of slave markets in Libya following the CNN report showing that sub-Saharan Africans are being sold as slaves for as little as $400, reports Sertan Sanderson
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that recent reports of African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya were “appalling” and could amount to crimes against humanity.
Guterres said that he felt “horrified” to see video footage from a CNN investigation, which appeared to show two young men being auctioned off at a slave auction where migrants were sold for as little as 400 dollars (340 euros) per person. The authenticity of the video could not independently be verified.
“I abhor these appalling acts and call upon all competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Guterres told reporters. “Slavery has no place in our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity.”
The German DPA news agency reported that the UN chief said the “scourge” of human trafficking should remind the international community of the need to address issues surrounding migration, as African and European leaders prepare to meet at the EU-Africa Summit in Ivory Coast’s main city of Abidjan next week, where Europe’s efforts to tackle migration by co-opting Libya will be high on the agenda.
Guterres said that he wanted Libyan authorities alongside the International Criminal Court, which has a mandate to open war crimes investigations in Libya, to look into the issue of slave auctions, according to UN spokesman Farhan Haq. The UN Security Council will discuss human trafficking during a special debate in New York on Wednesday which is expected to focus on the treatment of migrants in Libya.
Burkina Faso takes diplomatic measures
Burkina Faso’s foreign minister meanwhile has recalled its ambassador to Libya over the reports of the alleged slave auction. The Reuters news agency reported that Foreign Minister Alpha Barry announced the decision of President Roch Marc Christian Kabore at a news conference as follows:
“The president of Burkina Faso has decided to recall the ambassador to Tripoli, General Abraham Traore, for a consultation,” Barry said. He added that he had also “summoned the Libyan charge d’affaires in Ouagadougou to express our indignation at these images that belong to other centuries, images of the slave trade”. President Kabore has also demanded information from Libya about the fate of some 30 Burkinabe migrants detained in the camps, Barry added.
Further reactions across Africa
Other African nations also shared their reactions, with Senegal’s government expressing “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil” that constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity.” Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou meanwhile said that the issue had made him “deeply angry” and urged Libyan authorities and international organizations to do “everything possible to stop this practice.”
Agence France Presse reported that protesters also gathered outside the Libyan embassies in Paris and in several other African capital cities including Bamako, Mali and Conakry, Guinea over the weekend. Protests are planned in Berlin and London later this week.
Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig meanwhile said in a statement that his UN-backed Government of National Accord would investigate the allegations. Many Libyans also took to social media and used the hashtag #LibyansAgainstSlavery on Facebook and Twitter, expressing their horror and disapproval.