Libya: Dealing With Libya's Slave Trade Could Be At the Risk of the Area's 'Stability'

Photo: le pays
Migrants in Libya

In what has become a characterising feature of Libya's zero-sum political landscape, it appears that a bid to curtail the deplorable practice of slavery could come at the expense of security and stability. By MENZI NDHLOVU.

A recently published CNN documentary on Libya's African migrant slave trade has sparked collective outrage over the phenomenon. Set in an undisclosed location in Tripoli, the documentary shows migrants that had been captured by militants off the coast of Tripoli, or the desert outskirts of the Fezzan region, being auctioned off in a clandestine market. Beyond the capital, similar trades were reportedly rife in the towns of Sabratha, Ghadames, Sebha, Gharyan, Zintan, Rajban, Kabaw and Garabulli.

The phenomenon is by no means new to the embattled country. Slavery, smuggling and human trafficking comprise a key component of Libya's post-Gaddafi parallel economy. However, amid the prolonged instability, the slave trade has boomed, with dissolution of the formal economy and the profitability of the informal market making illicit activities a lucrative alternative. Furthermore, the lure of militancy and flight among Libya's working age population has left the country bereft of a labour force, establishing demand for cheap labour, whose supply has been contentiously met by the...

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