Yaya Sillah

Thoughts on marriage and society

EU and AU have moral obligation to prevent slavery in Libya

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The AU and EU have a moral obligation to prevent slavery in Libya

(the continuation of my discussion concerning modern day slavery around the world, particularly in Libya)


I wish all my readers, a very Happy New Year.


People around the world are celebrating the coming of 2018 with a high expectation that the New Year will be more prosperous than the last. I join the international community in hoping this is so. However, we should bear in mind that thousands of African migrants are still languishing in slavery at labour camps and detention centres across Libya. I am pleased to see that certain countries in Africa, like the Gambia, are repatriating their citizens from Libya and persuading other countries to follow their example. However, I hope that conversations about slavery will continue to make headlines around the world, in order to ensure that we put enough pressure on authorities to put an immediate end to slavery, wherever it is happening.

There is a growing suspicion that economic agreements signed between the EU and armed gangs in Libya are encouraging criminals to enslave African migrants who are trying to reach Europe by crossing the Mediterranean Sea through Libya. Therefore desperate youths will be discouraged from taking such a dangerous journey, and Europe will then have fewer illegal immigrants. Even though this theory sounds genuine to some people, I don’t want believe such a wild claim is true. I don’t think, in the 21st century, the EU would sanction that kind of unimaginable human rights abuse of migrants. However, in ancient times, these methods were occasionally used by powerful states to ensure that law and order was effectively maintained in lawless countries like Libya.

I do understand that whenever a country is confronted by a migrant crisis, there is no easy solution. When I was recently visiting Australia, there was a huge public outcry concerning the status of refugees and economic migrants who are still held in the refugee camp at Manus Island, in Papua New Guinea, under the control of the Australian authorities. With many others, I signed a petition to put pressure on the Australian government to make sure they allow these refugees to settle in mainland Australian. The governments counter argument is that allowing them to settle in the country would mean victory for people traffickers who are making millions of dollars through such a lucrative business. In my opinion such an argument and returning the boats makes more sense than encouraging criminals and gangs to enslave migrants elsewhere.

On the other hand, the behaviour of some economic migrants who are now living in mainland Europe is not helping campaigners like me, who are tirelessly advocating on their behalf. For an example, last week, I was stunned when I saw two videos emerge on Facebook of Gambian migrants based in Germany, ranting in Mandinka and using a Boko Haram type of rhetoric, threating terror in the Gambia if they were deported back to Gambia. According to them, there was a rumour that the Gambian government had signed an agreement with Germany regarding the deportation of illegal Gambian migrants. I was extremely disappointed by the people who made such threatening videos, and by those who liked it on Facebook.


Discussion concerning economic migration and slavery, especially in Libya, has to be constructive, based on mutual respect, ethics and discipline. But threatening to unleash terror on innocent people will only make the situation for migrants in Europe worse, and those guilty of any wrong doing would have to face the ultimate consequences for their actions. Let’s continue our debate with maturity and discipline, not with violence and contempt.

It’s always important to remember that we were all created equal. No man is a slave to any other man.



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