November 20, 2017 (ADDIS ABABA) – The head of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Monday has urged a credible inquiry on the ’slave markets’ for African migrants in Libya.
Mahamat made his request during a meeting with the Libyan Chargé d’Affaires to Ethiopia, Seddigh Elgwairy, to discuss the situation of African migrants in Libya, after reports of the auctioning of some migrants as slaves.
Last weekend, African Union leaders said outraged by footage released by CNN showing African men sold at a slave auction in Libya. They further called for a swift investigation into the “despicable” trade “from another era”.
Also, migrants who reached Europe said they had been held by smugglers and forced to work for little or no money. Other said they had been tortured and in some cases raped by traffickers.
“The Chairperson of the Commission expressed the African Union’s profound concern over these despicable acts and stressed the need for a credible inquiry to shed light on this situation, in order to identify those responsible and to bring them to justice,” said a statement released on Monday evening.
Mahamat further urged the Libyan authorities to cooperate with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights, which has been requested to urgently carry out an investigation.
The UN-backed Libyan government launched a probe into the slave auctions in the north African country. A high-level committee has been formed including representatives from all the security apparatus to conduct the investigation.
The Chargé d’Affaires condemned “these inhumane practices” and said that his government is committed to taking the necessary measures against all culprits. He further pledged that his government will provide the necessary cooperation to the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
Elgwairy “reiterated the appeal of the Libyan Government for adequate international assistance to help it address the challenges related to migration and the existence of criminal networks involved in human trafficking”.
The African Union in the upcoming days will dispatch an envoy to Libya for consultations with the Libyan Government and other stakeholders to agree on practical measures to improve the difficult conditions of African migrants in Libya.