Libyan authorities have launched a formal investigation into slave auctions in the country, the government said Friday.
“A high-level committee has been convened encompassing representatives from all the security apparatus to oversee this investigation,” Anes Alazabi, an official with the internationally recognized government of Libya’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency, told CNN.
“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.”
Alazabi’s agency will be overseeing the probe. Part of its work will be to assess whether all the locations of these auctions are under the control of the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.
The International Organization for Migration, an intergovernmental organization based in Geneva that focuses on migration management, welcomed the investigation. But its chief of mission for Libya warned in an interview with CNN’s Nima Elbagir “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,” Othman Belbeisi said from Tunis.
CNN’s Alex Platt and Raja Razek traveled with Elbagir to Libya in October after obtaining footage of a migrant auction.
At a property outside the capital of Tripoli, CNN witnessed a dozen men being sold like commodities — some auctioned off for as little as $400.