18 November 2017
By Chidiebere Ejike
Following the release of shocking images showing the sale of young men in Libya, the African Union, AU, on Friday, called on Libyan authorities to investigate what it described as “slave markets” of black Africans operating in the conflict-torn nation.
It was learnt that the demand follows the release of CNN footage of a live auction in Libya where black youths are presented to north African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.
The Chairman of the African Union, who is also the Guinean President, Alpha Conde, demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a “despicable trade … from another era”.
Conde appealed for the Libyan authorities to “reassess migrants’ detention conditions” following revelations over squalid jails and detention centres that await migrants who are caught trying to reach the coast.
He said, “These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal.”
African migrants from nations including Guinea, Senegal, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and The Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.
However, investigations in recent years has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gangmasters, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces, while many end up stuck in the unstable north African nation for years.
According to the International Organization for Migration, which is also amassing evidence of slavery, more than 8, 800 stranded migrants have been returned home this year.
Meanwhile Senegal’s government commenting on Facebook, expressed “outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil,” which constituted a “blight on the conscience of humanity”.
A CNN report on Friday also reveal that Libya has opened an investigation into the practice, and pledged to return those taken as slaves to their country of origin.