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UN sanctions human traffickers in Libya

Six leaders of human trafficking networks operating in Libya have been sanctioned by the United Nations’ Security Council. This is the first time human traffickers will be featured on the international sanctions list. Four of the sanctioned traffickers are Libyan while the other two are from Eritrea. The sanctions will place a global travel ban on the six traffickers and will freeze assets belonging to them.

Over the years, Libya has become a major route for human smuggling and trafficking as well as a departure point for migrants trying to reach Europe by sea.

The new sanctions are the result of a global call for action against traffickers in Libya. The Netherlands raised the issue and proposed a global asset freeze and travel ban on the top six most prominent human traffickers on 1 May. The proposal was motivated in part by a news story that showed African migrants being sold as slaves late last year.

“Last fall, images of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya shocked our conscience, and the Security Council vowed to take action,” said US envoy to the UN, Nikki Haley.

“Today’s sanctions send a strong message that the international community is united in seeking accountability for perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling. There is no place in our world for such abuses of human rights and human dignity,” she said.

One of the men, Eritrean Ermias Ghermay, was described in the original sanctions request as the leader of a network responsible for “trafficking and smuggling tens of thousands of migrants” from the Horn of Africa to the coast of Libya and onwards to Europe and the United States.

The other sanctioned individuals are Abd al Rahman al-Milad, head of the Libyan coastguard in Zawiya; Mohammed Kachlaf, head of the Shuhada al Nasr brigade, a militia in Zawiya, Western Libya; Ahmad Oumar al-Dabbashi, the leader of another Libyan militia; Musab Abu-Qarin, also from Libya; and Fitiwi Abdelrazak from Eritrea.

After the announcement of the sanctions, UN Secretary General, António Guterres tweeted, “We were all horrified by pictures of human beings for sale in Libya last year. I welcome the Security Council’s decision to sanction six traffickers and smugglers. There must be accountability for exploitation and human rights abuses,”

Since 2014, human traffickers have operated with impunity in Libya due to the instability of Libya’s parallel and feuding governing structures. During that time period, hundreds of thousands of migrants have been smuggled across the Mediterranean Sea, with thousands losing their lives during the journey.

Photo credit: voanews.com. Photo caption: The U.N. Security Council during a session in New York City, U.S

TMP – 10/06/2018