Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — “8 100,” says the auctioneer. “900 … 1,000 … 1,100 …” Sold. For 1,200 Libyan dinars — the same as $800.
Not a car or truck, a piece of land, or an item of furniture. Not “products” at all, but two humans.
Among the unidentified men for sale in the grainy cell phone video tutorial obtained by CNN is Nigerian. He is apparently in his twenties and is normally wearing a pale clothing and sweatpants.
He has been offered up for sale as one of several “big strong boys for farm work,” in line with the auctioneer, who remains to be off camera. Simply his hands — resting proprietorially on the man’s shoulder — is obvious in the simple clip.
After seeing footage of the slave auction, CNN worked well to verify its authenticity and traveled to Libya to research further.
Carrying concealed cameras right into a property outside the capital of Tripoli previous month, we witness twelve people go “beneath the hammer” in the area of six or perhaps seven minutes.
“Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a large strong gentleman, he’ll dig,” the salesman, dressed up in camouflage gear, says. “What am I bid, what am I bid?”
Buyers increase their hands while the purchase price rises, “500, 550, 600, 650 …” Within a few minutes it is all over and the men, utterly resigned with their fate, are staying handed over with their new “masters.”
Following the auction, we met two of the men who was simply sold. These were so traumatized by what they’d been through that they could not speak, therefore scared that these were suspicious of everyone they met.
Crackdown on smugglers
Each year, tens of thousands of folks pour across Libya’s borders. They’re refugees fleeing conflict or financial migrants searching for better opportunities in Europe.
Many have sold everything they own to financing the voyage through Libya to the coast and the gateway to the Mediterranean.
But a recent clampdown by the Libyan coastguard means fewer boats are making it out to ocean, leaving the smugglers with a backlog of would-be passengers on the hands.
So the smugglers become masters, the migrants and refugees become slaves.
Migrants rescued from the Mediterranean arrive at a naval base in Tripoli in October.
The evidence filmed by CNN has been handed over to the Libyan authorities, who’ve promised to launch an investigation.
First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tripoli told CNN that although he previously not really witnessed a slave auction, he acknowledged that organized gangs are operating smuggling rings in the country.
“They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may well not make it,” Hazam says. “(The smuggler) will not care so long as he gets the amount of money, and the migrant gets to Europe or die at ocean.”
“The problem is dire,” Mohammed Abdiker, the director of operation and emergencies for the International Organization for Migration, stated in a affirmation after returning from Tripoli in April. “Some reviews are really horrifying and the latest reports of ‘slave marketplaces’ for migrants can be added to a long list of outrages.”
The auctions happen in a seemingly normal town in Libya filled with people leading regular lives. Children play in the pub; people head to work, talk to close friends and make dinners because of their families.
But inside the slave auctions it’s like we’ve stepped back in time. The only thing missing may be the shackles around the migrants’ wrists and ankles.
Deportation ‘back to square one’
Anes Alazabi is a supervisor at a detention center in Tripoli for migrants that are due to get deported. He says he’s heard “a lot of stories” about the abuse completed by smugglers.
The Triq Al-Sika Detention Centre in Tripoli, where some migrants are held by Libyan authorities before they are repatriated.
“I’m suffering for them. What I’ve seen here daily, believe me, it creates me feel soreness for them,” he says. “Every day I can hear a fresh story from people. You should listen to all of them. It’s their right to deliver their voices.”
Among the detained migrants, a man named Triumph, says he was first sold at a slave auction. Sick and tired of the rampant corruption in Nigeria’s Edo express, the 21-year-aged fled residence and spent a yr and four weeks — and his life cost savings — trying to reach Europe.
He made it so far as Libya, where he says he and other would-get migrants were held in grim living conditions, deprived of foodstuff, abused and mistreated by their captors.
“In the event that you look at most of the people in this article, if you check your bodies, you see the marks. They are beaten, mutilated.”
When his funds ran away, Victory was sold as a day laborer by his smugglers, who told him that the profit created from the transactions would serve to reduce his debt. But after weeks to be forced to work, Triumph was told the amount of money he’d been bought for wasn’t more than enough. He was came back to his smugglers, only to be re-sold several even more times.
The smugglers also demanded ransom payments from Victory’s family before eventually releasing him.
Just simply WATCHED Nigerian migrant: ‘We was sold’ Replay More Videos … MUST WATCH Nigerian migrant: ‘I was sold’ 03:15
“I spent a million-plus [Nigerian naira, or $2,780],” he tells CNN from the detention middle, where he’s waiting to be sent back to Nigeria. “My mom even visited a few villages, borrowing cash from diverse couriers to save my life.”
As the route through north Africa becomes increasingly fraught, many migrants have relinquished their dreams of ever reaching European shores. This year, more than 8,800 individuals have opted to voluntarily come back residence on repatriation flights arranged by the IOM
While many of his friends from Nigeria have made it to Europe, Victory is resigned to returning real estate empty-handed.
“I could not make it, but I thank God for the life span of those that make it,” he says.
“I’m not happy,” he adds. “I return back and start back from square one. It’s very painful. Very painful.”