France demanded Libya respond after a video appearing to show African migrants sold as slaves in the country sparked outrage, with French officials even raising the prospect of sanctions against Libya during a United Nations session Wednesday.
Reuters reported the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday unanimously backed a resolution urging tougher action to crack down on human trafficking and modern slavery worldwide.
Speaking to lawmakers, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian suggested Paris wanted to take things further and called for a session to specifically discuss Libya.
“Libyan authorities, who have been alerted several times, including by myself because I was there in September, have decided to open an investigation into the facts,” Le Drian said, according to Reuters.
Footage appearing to show African migrants sold as slaves in Libya has sparked an international outcry, with protests erupting across Europe and Africa.
“What has been revealed is indeed trafficking of human beings, it’s a crime against humanity,” French President Emmanuel Macron said during a news conference with African Union President Alpha Conde.
Macron said he wants the U.N. Security Council to discuss what substantive steps can be taken to stop the crimes. Still, Conde said the European Union must share in the blame.
“What happened in Libya is shocking, scandalous, but we must establish the responsibilities,” Conde said. “In Libya, there is no government, so the European Union cannot choose a developing country and ask that country to detain refugees...when it doesn’t have the means to do so."
Libya splintered along political, ideological and tribal lines during and after a 2011 NATO-backed uprising that unseated former leader Muammar Qaddafi. In 2014 a battle for the capital led to rival parliaments and governments being set up in Tripoli and the east.