The reports that slave trade is reportedly thriving in the lawlessness of post-Gaddafi Libya, and people of African origin are being traded in its territory, are “inaccurate,” officials of the Libyan Embassy in Dhaka said on Monday.
Following a CNN investigation report broadcast last week, Mahmoud M El Sallabi, the charge d'affairs of the Libyan Embassy to Bangladesh, termed the allegations “unproven and irresponsible” when speaking to reporters at the embassy in Dhaka yesterday.
“The information, whatever presented by the news reports on the selling and purchasing of human beings of African origin, is inaccurate. In fact, it is a bargaining process to smuggle them to their final destination [Europe] as migrants, not slaves, and the bargaining was for the cost of their transportation, not for the purpose of slavery,” Sallabi said.
He added that slave trade is universally condemned in Libya based not only on international conventions on human rights, but also on the religious values and traditions of the country’s people.
Sallabi further said the Libyan government had assigned a team to conduct an investigation into the “manufactured” allegations of slave trading as soon as they surfaced to reveal the reality to both international and local audiences, and action would be taken against any perpetrators if identified.
“Such practices and violations, if any, are consequences of illegal migration, which affects Libya more than other countries of the world. Libya refuses to take the responsibility of addressing illegal migration alone, as it is the joint responsibility of the countries of origin, transit and destination,” Sallabi said.
He added that Libya spends a significant amount of money in the establishment and management of migrant sheltering centres, as well as on facilitating voluntary repatriation of migrants.
Mentioning that Libya is a major crossing point for migration across the Mediterranean Sea, Sallabi urged the relevant international and regional organizations to provide Libyan authorities with technical and logistics support to control the country’s southern border.
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Charge D' Affairs of the Libyan Embassy to Bangladesh Mahmoud M EL Sallabi Courtesy
He also urged the European Union and the international community to assist with stopping illegal migration in accordance with the Joint Declaration on Migration and Development made on November 22-23, 2006, in Tripoli, Libya.
“Libya reiterates its condemnation of any kind of human trafficking and human smuggling, and denounces such acts and practices at all levels. The Libyan government and people reject it categorically, and believe that dealings with migrants should be in a way that preserves their human dignity,” Sallabi told reporters.
“We emphasize that the comprehensive solution to these violations is the assistance of the international community with the political situation in Libya,” he said.
CNN published an investigative report on slave trade last week, with video evidence that shows smugglers in Libya auctioning migrants off as slaves.
According to CNN, they witnessed a dozen men going under the hammer in the space of minutes, sparking outrage among the international community.