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News > World

Africans in Europe Protest Libyan Slave Trade

  • Protesters demonstrate against slavery in Libya.

    Protesters demonstrate against slavery in Libya. | Photo: AFP

Published 26 November 2017

"Ordinary people aside, everyone knew about this — governments, international organizations, political leaders," Amnesty International said.

Over the course of a week, demonstrations have erupted across Europe as thousands of protesters gathered in Stockholm Saturday holding signs reading, “Stop the slavery now, now, now,” and “Human rights for all.”

Migrants Sold into Slavery in Libya for as Little as $400

In Brussels, demonstrators were arrested as they marched through the city. Hundreds more congregated in Berlin as African communities rallied in Germany’s capital outside the Libyan embassy, demanding authorities intercede and end the terrible litany of crimes against migrants.

“To stop this situation German [sic] has to intervene, EU has to intervene, England, Britain has to intervene and stop financing these criminals in Libya,” one Ethiopian demonstrator, Gizaw, told PressTV. Other demonstrations were organized Friday in Paris and Rome outside the nation’s embassies.

While leaders scramble to deny prior knowledge, social activists say they have exposed the situation on more than one occasion.

"Ordinary people aside, everyone knew about this — governments, international organizations, political leaders," said Hamidou Anne, a Senegalese analyst from LÁfrique des Idees.

According to Amnesty International's West African Director Aliourne Tine, all instances of hostage-taking, violence, torture and rape in Libya have been well documented. "We've been talking about slavery for a long time," he said.

However, following the release of CNN’s hidden footage of a group of young Africans being auctioned at a market near Tripoli, the international community reacted with surprise.

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U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was horrified, while the Libyan Deputy Prime Minister Ahmed Metig said in a Facebook post that the government, with assistance from the U.N., would investigate all “slave market” allegations.

"We need an impartial investigation to see how the trafficking is organized and who is behind it," Tine said, adding that simply "condemning" a crime is not enough.

Migrants are being sold into slavery, for as low as US$400, to perform excruciating labor, according to the Nov. 14 report. Reminiscent of the auctions during the transatlantic slave trade period, migrants are priced based on their physical capabilities. Many are left broken, mentally and physically, as a result of their forced servitude, the report states.

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