A new report from CNN shows a burgeoning slave market in the failed state that is Libya. In a shocking video, a CNN reporter attends a slave auction where young African men are displayed as “big strong boys” and are sold as “diggers” or for other menial jobs.
The prices ranged from around €400 – €600 in this particular auction, which was said to have been filmed in August.
The CNN video has caused outrage across the globe, with protests springing up in cities like Paris and some government’s even condemning the practice and calling for an answer to this growing problem.
It has led to global worry about the return of an open-air slave trade in the modern world. With the current migration crisis leading many young, vulnerable people to the ports of Libya, abuse is rife, and while many people are shocked by the CNN report, few are surprised.
Lovin Malta spoke to Mark Micallef, a Maltese investigative journalist and Senior Research Fellow for the Geneva-based Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime, about reports of a growing slave trade in Libya.
Mark specialises in human smuggling and trafficking and is currently in Libya.
He said that “the CNN reportage is the first time we have visual evidence of this sort of activity. However, International Organisation for Migration had first raised the alarm in April of this year when it reported on consistent anecdotal evidence from migrants who said they were sold.”
“I have personally come across two credible reports from migrants who reported a scenario consistent with the CNN video, while another researcher I know independently collected evidence on another case. There is also a mountain of reporting and research done on kidnap for ransom, as well as trafficking activities such as indentured labour and forced prostitution,” he said.
“The reality is that the state remains absent or very weak in large parts of Libya to this day and this opens the door to all sorts of criminal activity impacting not only migrants (regular or not) but also Libyans. Irregular migrants, particularly the poorest among them are the vulnerable category.”
“Over the past week, I spoke to various Libyan authorities about the CNN story since I was here when the story broke. By and large the reaction has been one of shock and disgust but Libyan authorities need support to be able to deal with this issue, which is only one of a the multitude of very pressing humanitarian issues facing the country.”
“To this date, officials from the Department for the Combat of Illegal Immigration (DCIM) told me they received no detailed information from CNN that could help them identify the location let alone the individuals responsible for the auction. A spokesman for the department which would be the responsible authority in this field, told me that he had reached out to CNN but was told to refer to the published evidence. If this is true, I think it is a serious omission on the part of the channel, which, in this case is duty bound not only to flag the activity but try to help bring the criminals behind it to justice,” he said.
Until more evidence becomes apparent, it is hard to gauge the true extent of the slave market in Libya six years after former leader Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed.
The Libyan government on their part has launched an investigation into the alleged slave auctions across the country. The hashtag #LibyansAgianstSlavery also trended worldwide following the report.
They are joined by the chairman of the African Union, Alpha Condé, who called it a “despicable trade,” as well as the UN Support Mission in Libya, who said it was “dismayed and sickened” by what the video shows, and is “actively pursuing” these allegations.
— UNSMIL (@UNSMILibya) November 22, 2017