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UN sanctions six human traffickers in Libya

A carnival float protesting slavery in Libya [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 June, 2018

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This marks the first time the UN body sanctioned the leaders of smuggling rings.
The UN Security Council on Thursday sanctioned six leaders of human trafficking networks in Libya, a first for the world body. 

The sanctions passed after Russia "lifted its hold placed on the Dutch proposal" to include the six traffickers on the sanctions blacklist, a diplomat said.

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

"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. 

Included in the sanctions are a global travel ban and asset freezing. Two Eritrean nationals, along with four Libyans, were hit with the UN sanctions. 

Russia had requested a hold in early May "to better understand the value of the said proposal, how efficient it might be if approved," according to a letter obtained by AFP.

Among the six now sanctioned is Ermias Ghermay of Eritrea, described as a 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 five are Fitiwi Abdelrazak of Eritrea, Libyan militia leader Ahmad Oumar al-Dabbashi, Libyan Musab Abu-Qarin, described as a "central actor" in migrant smuggling in the coastal area of Sabratha, Libyan Mohammed Kachlaf, head of the Shuhada al Nasr brigade in Zawiya, western Libya and finally, Abd al Rahman al-Milad, who heads the Libyan coast guard in Zawiya.

Libya has long been a transit hub for migrants, but smugglers have stepped up their lucrative business in the years that followed the 2011 ouster of Moammer Gaddafi.

The fate of migrants has come under intense security since film footage emerged last year of Africans auctioned off as slaves in Libya, drawing outrage from African governments.

Agencies contributed to this report. 

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