The United Nations Security Council sanctioned six accused leaders of human trafficking networks operating inside Libya on Friday — marking the first time traffickers have been put on an international sanctions list.
According to the U.N., the six sanctioned individuals are Ermias Ghermay, Fitiwi Abdelrazak, Ahmad Oumar Al-Dabbashi, Mus’ab Abu-Qarin, Mohammed Kachlaf and Abd Al Rahman Al-Milad.
The sanctions were a result of a Dutch proposal backed by the United States, France, Germany and Britain. The implementation of the sanctions came after Russia lifted a technical hold it set on the request for action against the individuals.
The unprecedented sanctions follow a CNN report at the end of 2017 showed footage of a migrant slave auction in Libya.
The sanctioned men reportedly made their fortunes by leading criminal networks that traffic vast numbers of vulnerable migrants through Libya to Europe. Others in the group have been accused of having links to the Islamic State or selling migrants into sexual slavery.
The Dutch Foreign Ministry’s office said in a statement Friday that the sanctions would help improve the lives of refugees and migrants by preventing them from making the “dangerous journey” across the Mediterranean.
“The sanctions are part of a wider approach to tackling human trafficking and people smuggling, which the government intends to step up in line with the coalition agreement,” Mark Harbers, Netherland’s state secretary for justice and security, said.
“This Dutch initiative sends a clear message,” Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said. “We are tackling human trafficking in Libya.”
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said Friday’s sanctions would send a “strong message.”
“Last fall, images of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya shocked our conscience, and the Security Council vowed to take action,” Haley said. “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.”
In recent years, Libya has emerged as a major route for migrants hoping to make the trek to Europe. There were an estimated 400,000 to 700,000 migrants in more than 40 detention camps across Libya as of December, with more than 3,100 deaths recorded by the International Organization of Migration.
By Sara Shayanian