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The United Nations Security Council has hit six major human traffickers operating in Libya with sanctions in an unprecedented response to the slave trade in the country. The six men include four Libyans and two Eritreans known to lead criminal networks that trafficked vulnerable African migrants to Europe.
Shockingly, one of the men is a commander in the Libyan Coast Guard, whose efforts to turn back boats are funded by the European Union. The commander is accused of deliberately using firearms to sink boats full of migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.
Another trafficker is reported to have ties to ISIS, while others are known to have sold Africans into sex slavery.
CNN reports that the sanctions were finally approved after Russia dropped its objection:
The motion for sanctions was filed to the UN Security Council’s Libya sanctions committee by The Netherlands, supported by France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States. It followed a months-long investigation by a panel of UN experts. Russia put a “technical hold” on the motion in May and requested more evidence, but dropped its objection on Thursday.
It’s the first time the committee has slapped international sanctions on individuals for human trafficking.
Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok told CNN the sanctioning of the Coast Guard commander “shows that we will go to whatever place or organization concerned in finding and punishing the people responsible, even if it is an organization that we are working together with in other fields.”
The new sanctions will freeze the six men’s financial assets, including their personal bank accounts and revenue from their business activities. They are also being hit with travel bans.
“These sanctions will help stop the flow of blood money. It will prevent them from buying protection in Libya which in turn can destabilize the region,” said the Dutch National Prosecutors’ Office.