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France demands emergency UN meeting on treatment of migrants in Libya

Paris threatened to impose sanctions on Libya if it failed to address "slave markets" inside the country
Migrants were being sold for $400 in slave markets to farmers across the country (Reuters)

France has called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting on the treatment of migrants in Libya after it was revealed that Africans were being sold as slaves across the country. 

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Tuesday said that France will seek to implement sanctions if Libyan authorities fail to take action. 

Le Drian said he wanted the International Organization for Migration and the UN Refugee Agency to publish details about the trafficking of migrants in the country.

“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.

“We want it to go fast and if the Libyan justice system cannot carry this procedure through then we should open international sanctions,” Le Drian said during a question and answer session at the lower house of the French parliament.

Paris's intervention comes after it agreed to take dozens of migrants who were sold into slavery from Libya. 

The African Union called for a probe and demanded the international community take action to help migrants in Libya after CNN revealed last week that hundreds of African migrants locked up in detention centres across the country were being sold as slaves. 

Guinean President Alpha Conde, who is also chairman of the African Union, demanded an enquiry and prosecutions relating to what he termed a "despicable trade... from another era".

Meanwhile, Senegal's government, commenting on Facebook, expressed "outrage at the sale of Sub-Saharan African migrants on Libyan soil," which constituted a "blight on the conscience of humanity".

African migrants from nations including Guinea and Senegal, but also Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Gambia make the dangerous crossing through the Sahara to Libya with hopes of making it over the Mediterranean Sea to Italy.

The CNN report showed African migrants being sold for as high as $400 being auctioned in slave markets to work on farms. 

Protests also took place over the weekend outside the Libyan embassy in Paris where thousands of people who live in the city marched against the slave markets. 

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