UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council on Thursday sanctioned six people for involvement in human trafficking and smuggling of migrants in Libya after Russia lifted a hold it had set on the request for action against the individuals.
The Netherlands, backed by France, Germany, Britain and the United States, asked the 15-member council’s Libya sanctions committee last month to impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on the six people.
Russia had asked in May for more information on the proposed action. With the Russian hold lifted, the sanctions go into effect immediately.
The proposal came after a video, appearing to show African migrants sold as slaves, sparked global outrage late last year.
“Last fall, images of migrants being sold as slaves in Libya shocked our conscience, and the Security Council vowed to take action. Today’s sanctions send a strong message that the international community is united in seeking accountability for perpetrators of human trafficking and smuggling,” said U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley in a statement.
Under a sanctions regime set up in 2011, the Security Council is able to impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on “individuals and entities involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya.”
The six people listed are Mus’Ab Abu-Qarin, Mohammed Kachlaf, Abd Al Rahman Al-Milad, Ermias Ghermay, Fitiwi Abdelrazak and Ahmad Oumar Al-Dabbashi.
Libya descended into chaos after a NATO-backed uprising in 2011 led to the overthrow and killing of leader Muammar Gaddafi, with two competing governments backed by militias scrambling for control of the oil-producing country. Islamic State militants also gained a foothold in the North African state.
People smugglers operating with impunity in Libya have sent hundreds of thousands of migrants by sea to Europe, mainly Italy, since 2014. Thousands have died during the voyages.
Reporting by Rodrigo Campos; Additional reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by Peter Cooney