Intercepting Migrants: Libya’s Traffickers Sanctioned by the UN

Written by | Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

The United Nations Security Council has sanctioned six people in relation to their involvement in the trafficking and smuggling of Libyan migrants following the international outrage at the reports of rampant slavery in the North African country. The blacklist includes four Libyans — including the head of a regional Coast Guard unit — and two Eritreans. These individuals are believed to be the first human traffickers to have been sanctioned internationally.


“Last fall, images of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya shocked our conscience, and the Security Council vowed to take action,” Nikki Haley, the American ambassador to the United Nations, commented in a statement. “Today’s sanctions send a strong message that the international community is united in seeking accountability for perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling.” Under a sanction mandate that was established in 2011, the Security Council can impose asset freeze and travel ban on “individuals and entities involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya.”


Traffickers and smugglers are operating with impunity in Libya, sending hundreds of thousands of migrants by sea to Europe. Only this past weekend, Libya’s coast guard has intercepted more than 150 migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. Two vessels were stopped off the coast of Western Zuwara district and the capital, Tripoli. The Libyan Navy Forces spokesman Ayoub Qassim explained that the illegal immigrants were from African countries and added further details about the boats, notably that “the second boat was rickety so the Libyan oil tanker Anwar Al-Khalij helped them out before the coastguards had arrived to the rescue.”

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