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Libya Slave Trade Government rejects blame, promises crackdown on traffickers

The government claimed that the country itself has been harmed as the transit place for illegal African migrants.

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Many immigrants trying to sneak in Europe are trapped in Libya's brutal human trafficking world play

Many immigrants trying to sneak in Europe are trapped in Libya's brutal human trafficking world

(CNN)

The Libyan government has rejected responsibility for the alleged slave trading of trafficked human beings going on in the country, describing the media coverage as "fierce and blind campaigns".

After a CNN report uncovered the dehumanising abuse of African migrants in Libya who are being reportedly sold for around N145,000 ($400), the international outrage has grown to deafening heights.

According to a statement released by the Embassy of Libya in Nigeria, the Government of National Accord said the issue of human trafficking is one that the government has been battling for years.

The government claimed that the country itself has been harmed as the hub of African migrants trying to sneak their way illegally into Europe through the Mediterranean sea.

The statement read in part, "Libya considers such matter, if accurate, is a result of illegal immigration. Libya is harmed of it, she rejects being held responsible.

"Solving the issue of illegal immigrants is a collective responsibility to the countries of origin, transit and destination. Moreover, Libya spends a lot of money to construct and manage camps to accommodate the immigrants and facilitate their voluntary return to their countries."

Despite not accepting culpability for the alleged slave trading, or admitting it to be the entire truth, the government promised to crack down on perpetrators.

"The Libyan Authority has immediately instructed the relevant authority to carry out a comprehensive investigation on this criminal claim according to the Libyan law and reveal its findings to local and international community; apprehend and punish persons responsible for it, be it human trafficking of immigrants or human trading.

"We emphasise on important issue of saving immigrants from suffering and political execrations.

"Libya and its people are Africans, jointly invests in African countries and open its border to African brothers, she accepts more than two million African workers from different countries working in different fields and legally live in dignity in Libya. Libya has bug investments in African countries worth over $10 billion."

On Wednesday, November 29, at the European Union-African Union summit in Cote d'Ivoire, African and European leaders agreed on an urgent evacuation plan that would see about 15,000 people flown out of Libya.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) has revealed that a total of 1,295 Nigerians voluntarily returned from Libya in November after being stranded in the volatile North African country.

How the modern slave trade works in Libya

Libya has been a hotbed for illegal migrants for years now as it serves as the transit hub to the Mediterranean which connects to Europe. Every year, migrants embark on the perilous journey across the sea to escape the economic and/or political uncertainties in their countries of origin.

According to Missing Migrants, an organization that tracks deaths along migratory routes, at least 2,985 people have died trying to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa or the Middle East in 2017 alone.

However, this has not stopped people from trying to make the journey into Europe to seek greener pastures.

African migrants in a boat on the Mediterranean play

African migrants in a boat on the Mediterranean

(Answers Africa)

 

A government crackdown on trafficking has resulted in a drastic reduction in boat journeys which means many are trapped in Libya for a long time waiting for their turn to travel. The migrants are mostly held in connecting houses or detention centres that the smugglers control.

This creates a situation where smugglers are able to exploit the migrants, especially as soon as they run out of money to pay which means they're viewed as properties.

Since most smuggling rings are run by local organised gangs, militias and corrupt security officials in Libya, many victims are trapped in unfamiliar surroundings with captors who are not shy to resort to violent means.

Smugglers are known to blackmail migrants into doing free labour or outrightly selling them to other militias involved in human trafficking. Other times, they hold migrants for ransom and call their families to pay while issuing threats to kill them.

Female migrants are reportedly in more danger of being used as sex slaves especially if they don't have anything to pay their captors.

Global outrage

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, described the slave auction footage as "the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity."

It has also been condemned by Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig, Guinean President and African Union (AU) Chairman, Alpha Conde, Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou, and the Senegalese government.

Burkina Faso also recalled its ambassador to Libya with President Roch Marc Christian Kabore demanding information from the Libyan government about the fate of some 30 Burkinabe migrants detained in the camps.

President Muhammadu Buhari's Senior Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs and Diaspora, Abike Dabiri-Erewa condemned the slave auction in a press statement on Monday, November 20.

She described it as "totally unacceptable, despicable, and inhumane and should be condemned by anyone who is human and has blood running through their veins."

During the EU-AU summit this week, French President, Emmanuel Macron, called the revelation "a crime against humanity" and urged leaders present to "launch concrete military and policing action on the ground to dismantle those networks."

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