“Does anyone need a digger? This is a digger, a big and strong man, he will dig”. Josh Robbins attributes these words to an auctioneer who was heard uttering these words at a market on the outskirt of Tripoli, Libya’s capital. The sale of humans, as articles of trade, in once a stable economy, is believed to have reached an alarming stage. This illicit trade of black people is thought to have started in the aftermath of the death of one of Afrika ’strongest men- Muammar Gaddafi.
Breaking the narrative of this modern slave trade, the first exposure of these atrocious acts was made possible via the Cable Network News acronymed as CNN. This situation has been happening at the height of destruction of Afrikan economies by under the guise of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.
And this is a far cry from what is expected of the so-called advanced democracies. Therefore this is nothing but the hypocrisy of the highest order. In actuality, it is unambiguously clear that the neoliberal policies at play have become the order of the day.
The slave trade has been allowed with impunity as it benefits these so-called powers that be of this world directly and indirectly through their state owned enterprises including multinational corporations.
The slave trade in Libya is characterised by acts of human trafficking, people being auctioned, horrific people being abducted, tortured, mutilated, roasted alive and worst of all the sickening images of women being sexually violated. The images of abuse that emerged were so horrific and graphic to the extent that the U.N. declared this conduct as a crime against humanity.
According to media reports, men were being auctioned at a price as meagre as N$ 5451.45(approximately US$ 400.00). This brings one to imagine how the life of an African has become so cheap like an article of trade comparable to a worthless commodity. And in the consequence, his dignity which is ought to be inviolable, has become a casualty of this impairment.
Overall, the victims entangled in this web of shame of the 21st century, are mainly Afrikans who, out desperation, defied all odds and elected to risk their precious lives, in order to cross the Mediterranean Sea to Europe where it is believed that life is better than in their home countries.
The majority of these people left their countries of origin as farther field as Southern Africa (Zambia), Central Africa (Democratic Republic of the Congo) and West Africa (Nigeria and Ghana).
A great deal of these people, due socio- economic and political climate in their countries of origin, seeks to get out of the abject poverty; hence, they dare to cross the dangerous zone of the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. They are inspired by that mythical type of thinking into believing that Europe is a panacea to their respective unfavorable, if not unfortunate circumstances they find themselves in. This type of myth is a misrepresentation, as the resources in forms of agricultural commodities and minerals back home are in abundance.
In spite of abundant resources back home, it is a fact that many have gone through severe economic hardships as these resources could not be beneficiated to improve people’s livelihood. And this is what breeds the aforesaid desperation.
Consequently; this phenomenon had led these people into a trap of the modern day slavery, making Libya to become a transit hub for these rather dangerous expeditions. Libya has therefore become a centre of these criminal activities including human trafficking, forced labor, sexual abuse, rape, torture- the embodiment that befits the description of crimes against humanity.
In the aftermath of calamities such as this, naturally there would be a host of responses. This article intends to expound on some of them as the list may not be exhaustive. The first one- being the demonstration strategy. This is a natural inclination of voicing one’s concerns through by demonstrating as provided for by many progressive constitutions and other legal frameworks.
Thus far, lots of individuals and civil societies around the world have taken to the streets demonstrating against these are unfortunate mishaps. Others at that level have also been voicing their concerns by writing hard hitting opinion pieces and thus urging their governments, states and the international bodies for a prompt action to nip this madness into the bud.
A second approach would be to slam these despicable acts. This would mainly be done by representatives of individual states, governments, regional and continental bodies. For the sake of illustration, the Ministry of International and External Relations in Namibia is among those that had added their voice in condemning these atrocious acts.
During its 42 SADC Parliamentary Forum, the participants who were representatives of their respective Parliaments have adopted a motion condemning the alleged slave trade.
In addition, the fifth Afrikan Union- European Union summit held recently in Abidjan, the Ivorian Capital, was busy deliberating on how to establish an independent investigation into the alleged slave trade and including other sickening abuses.
The AU, the continental body responsible for the security of its nationals, has done thus far nothing significant in order to mitigate the escalation of the malaise. One would be left with nothing but an assumption that the continental body is without any tangible plan to rescue the aforesaid grave situation. This omission, therefore, by these actors is a non-starter.
Thirdly another besides abovementioned condemnation was taken by the UN through its Secretariat. As a permanent member of the Security Council, France through her ambassador to the UN, Francois Delattre, had urged the Security Council to impose sanctions on those that are involved in this slave trade of the Afrikan refugees and migrants. This includes also the establishment of an Ad Hoc Tribunal in order to try these crimes.
The irony of this gesture by France as one of the permanent members of the Security Council, is the fact that France was directly involved in the US led invasion of Libya which toppled Gaddafi. This makes her directly liable for the mess that Libya finds herself in today.
The security situation in Libya remains grim despite the pronouncements of sanctions by the UN against those involved in this shameful conduct as there is nothing tangible on the horizon. Libya presently is a failed state just like the DRC and others whose wealth renders them vulnerable to the hawkish predators of this world.
The state of lawlessness continues to reign supreme. The catastrophe, which befalls Libya today, was conceived by the US, France and others as architects of their neoliberal agenda. This ultimately has caused a great deal of destabilisation and sufferings in a host of many Afrikan countries and therefore enabling Afrika’sacred resources to be plundered and looted with impunity.
To conclude, the solution to the Libyan situation requires a prompt action to clean up the mess created by the so-called civilised nations of this world. Once the mess is cleared, it is only then that the security should then be guaranteed. This would enable the institutions of governance including the impartial judiciary to be established and function independently.
This would also ensure that the rule by people prevails; the security situation is enhanced; human rights are secured, sovereignty and a rule of law in the true sense of the word are maintained.
Those found to be liable for the unbearable suffering of these humans must be brought to account for their acts/ and or omissions.
Due to the prevailing situation in Libya, it just natural that the legitimate efforts to bring stability to Libya be supported by all actors particularly the Security Council through the doctrine of Responsibility to protect as the Libyan State is unable to fulfil its responsibility to protect its nationals and those within its territorial integrity.
Jambo Shipanga, Communal Commentator, Windhoek