On November 14, CNN published an exclusive report detailing what was then a rumored slave auction taking place in Libya’s capital, Tripoli. Since that initial report, the news outlet has spoken with a number of officials confirming what have been called “organized gangs” and “smuggling rings” operating throughout the country. As world leaders congregate and protesters demonstrate for freedom, CASSIUS is keeping log of the horrifying events reportedly unraveling in Libya. Keep checking back for updates.
November 14, 2017
CNN releases its exclusive report, “People for Sale: Where Lives Are Auctioned for $400,” after cell phone video footage of an alleged slave trade in Tripoli, Libya’s capital, begins making its rounds on the internet. At the time of CNN‘s initial report, nine auction locations are cited, and there are believed to be “many more.”
While First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tripoli hasn’t witnessed a slave auction himself, he tells CNN of “organized gangs” running “smuggling rings” in the country.
“They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” Hazam says. “(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”
November 17, 2017
Libyan authorities launch a formal investigation into the slave auctions following CNN‘s first report.
“A high-level committee has been convened encompassing representatives from all the security apparatus to oversee this investigation,” Anes Alazabi, an official with Libya’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency, tells the news outlet. “Priorities of the investigation are not only to convict those responsible for these inhumane acts, but also to identify the location of those who have been sold in order to bring them to safety and return them to their countries of origin.”
The investigation is welcomed by The International Organization for Migration, though its chief of mission for Libya warns “that the smuggling networks are becoming stronger, more organized and better equipped.”
“We definitely welcome the news for any investigation and we hope that this will cover not only this case but definitely all the cases of abuse and violence against migrants in Libya.”
November 18, 2017
Upon his return to English professional football (soccer) club Manchester United, midfielder Paul Pogba raises his arms in a handcuff gesture during a game against Newcastle United. “While very happy to be back, my prayers go to those suffering slavery in Libya,” he later explains on Instagram. “May Allah be by your side and may this cruelty come to an end!”
November 19, 2017
Protests erupt in Africa and France in the wake of news coverage. Particularly, hundreds of young Black protesters organize outside of the Libyan Embassy in central Paris to fight for “an end to the slavery and concentration camps in Libya.”
“We have to mobilize — we can’t let this kind of thing happen,” a protester tells TV station France 24, according to The New York Times. “Did we really need to see such shocking pictures before taking a stand? I don’t think so.”
Police officers reportedly tear gas organizers when the rally becomes violent.
November 20, 2017
UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for all countries to adopt the UN Convention Transnational Organized Crime and its protocol on human trafficking while expressing “horror” at news reports.
“I abhor these appalling acts and call upon all competent authorities to investigate these activities without delay and to bring the perpetrators to justice,” Guterres says. “I have asked the relevant United Nations actors to actively pursue this matter.”
November 21, 2017
The UN Security Council calls for investigations into Libya slave auctions.
“In recent days we have all been horrified by images of African migrants being sold as ‘goods’ in Libya,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres says during a meeting. “Slavery and other such egregious abuses of human rights have no place in the 21st century.”
Matthew Rycroft, the UK’s ambassador to the UN, adds that images shared by CNN were shocking “because they showed that this most degrading form of exploitation is tragically not a thing of the past.”
November 22, 2017
France requests an “urgent meeting” with the UN Security Council after French President Emmanuel Macron calls the reported slave auctions “a crime against humanity.” According to CNN, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says France “will advocate for international sanctions against Libya if its justice system fails to act.”
November 24, 2017
Rwanda offers refuge to nearly 30,000 captive African migrants in Libya.
“Rwanda, like the rest of the world, was horrified by the images of the tragedy currently unfolding in Libya, where African men, women and children who were on the road to exile, have been held and turned into slaves,” the Rwandan foreign ministry says in a statement. “Given Rwanda’s political philosophy and our own history, we cannot remain silent when human beings are being mistreated and auctioned off like cattle. The Government and people of Rwanda stand in solidarity with our African brothers and sisters still held in captivity. Rwanda may not be able to welcome everyone but our door is wide open.”
November 25, 2017
President Trump accuses CNN of “fake news” amid reports about Libya, prompting broadcaster Libya 218 to question the credibility of the slave auction clip first shared by CNN.
“Here the possibility arises that the channel has published the report of slavery in Libya to secure an as yet hidden political objective,” they suggest. Libyan authorities later announce an investigation into the allegations of CNN’s report, and possibly CNN itself.
November 29, 2017
Over 200 migrants stranded in Libya are returned to their home country, according to Nigerian officials. Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron prepare to meet with European leaders and their African counterparts who all plan to attend a two-day summit in Abidjan. The Libya slave auctions are expected to be discussed some time within those two days.
November 30, 2017
News outlets report that a voluntary evacuation is planned by leaders on Wednesday (November 29) at the African Union-European Union summit in Ivory Coast. The plan, which will most likely be funded by the EU,will potentially have up to 15,000 people flown out of Libya and require the government to green light the landing of the UN’s evacuation planes.
“Given this wretched drama which recalls the worst hours of human history, I would like to appeal to our sense of responsibility to take all urgent measures to put an end to this practice, which belongs to another age,” Alassane Ouattara, Ivorian president, states during the summit. Mohamed Alkoni, Libyan charge d’affaires, adds that he has “never seen or heard any signs of racism in Libya.”
On Thursday (November 30), South African President Jacob Zuma condemns the “scourge of modern day slavery” while speaking at the African Union-European Union Summit. He also calls on other world leaders to “act decisively and support the Libyan Government of National Accord to address this human tragedy.”
“Women are used as sex slaves and child migrants also suffer abuse and rape,” Zuma adds. “We cannot stand idle without condemning such actions in the strongest possible terms. We can also not let the calls for justice for these victims go unheard.”
December 12, 2017
Amnesty International accuses European governments of being involved with the abuse of migrants in Libya.
“Hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants trapped in Libya are at the mercy of Libyan authorities, militias, armed groups and smugglers often working seamlessly together for financial gain. Tens of thousands are kept indefinitely in overcrowded detention centers where they are subjected to systematic abuse,” John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Europe Director, stated.
“European governments have not just been fully aware of these abuses; by actively supporting the Libyan authorities in stopping sea crossings and containing people in Libya, they are complicit in these abuses.”
December 19, 2017
The first flight carrying pre-screened migrants safely lands in Paris as a result of CNN’s reporting of the events in Libya.
December 23, 2017
Migrants detail the brutality taking place in Libya. “A lot of blacks are suffering there,” 27-year-old Nigerian Celestine Ike told CNN. “They are using black men as slaves.”
Ike, who also stated he was captured and imprisoned for nearly four months, wasn’t freed until a friend paid a ransom of 4,000 Libyan dinars ($2,930).