The Deputy Head of the UN-backed Libyan Presidential Council Ahmed Maetig announced Sunday he is leading inquiries into allegations that African migrants stranded in the North African country are being sold as slaves for a list price of $400.
Maetig’s announcement came following a call on Friday by the African Union (AU) to Libyan authorities to investigate “slave markets” of African migrants caught in Libya.
The AU’s chairman, President Alpha Condé of Guinea condemned what he called “despicable trade… from another era”.
Conde called the Libyan authorities to “reassess migrants’ detention conditions” following revelations about squalid jails and detention centers that await migrants who are caught trying to reach the coast.
“These modern slavery practices must end and the African Union will use all the tools at its disposal,” Conde added.
Alongside the AU, several African countries have also condemned the inhuman deeds, which have been reported by CNN. The US news network managed to videotape the sale of migrants at auctions reportedly taking place in Tripoli, Sabratha, Ghadames, Sebha, Gharyan, Zintan, Rajban, Kabaw and Garabulli.
Some migrants, labeled farm laborers, are being sold for as little as $400.
Some 20,000 migrants mostly from Sub-Sahara are being stranded in Libya after they were prevented from reaching European coasts. Early last week, the UN condemned the concentration of the migrants who are, according to the world organization, being kept in inhuman conditions.
The UN report chided the EU, which has been aiding Libyan coastguards and militias to stem illegal migration using Libya as the main port of departure.
Saturday, thousands of African protestors, largely from sub-Saharan countries gathered in front of the Libyan embassy in Paris to demand immediate end to trade of migrants in Libya.