France on Wednesday called an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council over slave-trading in Libya as President Emmanuel Macron blasted the auctioning of Africans as a crime against humanity.
“France decided this morning to ask for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council to discuss this issue,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told parliament.
“We are doing it as a permanent member of the Security Council. We have this capability and we are using it.”
Macron said the auctions, captured in shocking footage aired by US network CNN, were “scandalous” and “unacceptable”.
“It is a crime against humanity,” he said after meeting with African Union chief Alpha Condé in Paris.
“I hope we can go much further in the fight against traffickers who commit such crimes, and cooperate with all the countries in the region to dismantle these networks.”
CNN aired footage last week of an apparent auction where black men were presented to North African buyers as potential farmhands and sold off for as little as $400.
The video prompted a wave of condemnation, including from African stars such as Ivorian football player Didier Drogba.
But the European Union — where Macron is trying to carve out his influence — has also been criticised for cooperating with the Libyan coastguard in seeking to block migrants from leaving.
The UN this month deplored an EU policy of helping the Libyan authorities intercept migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean and return them to “horrific” prisons in Libya.
Guinean president Condé on Wednesday also criticised Europe’s cooperation with the Libyans.
“The refugees are living in extremely bad conditions,” he said. “Our European friends were not right to ask Libya to keep immigrants (in detention).”