Desperate migrants in an unsafe vessel.
Desperate migrants in an unsafe vessel.

France wants targeted sanctions imposed on human traffickers operating in Libya, following a CNN broadcast which showed African migrants being sold as slaves in the North African country, Reuters reports.

Paris made the appeal to the 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) in Washington on Tuesday after the latter had expressed its disgust and outrage at the video which showed African refugees in Libya being sold for as little as $400 each to work as farmhands and labourers.

French UN Ambassador Francois Delattre said the council should use sanctions to help stamp out trafficking in Libya.

“France will propose to assist the sanctions committee in identifying responsible individuals and entities for trafficking through Libyan territory,” Delattre told the council.

“We count upon support of the members of the council to make headway to that end.”

The UNSC set up a sanctions regime in 2011 which enables the world body to impose a global asset freeze and travel ban on “individuals and entities involved in or complicit in ordering, controlling, or otherwise directing, the commission of serious human rights abuses against persons in Libya”.

France’s proposal received support from some council members while others, including Britain and Sweden stated that a warning statement should first be issued.

Libya is used as a point of departure by hundreds of thousands of mostly desperate sub-Saharan Africans trying to reach Europe in search of a better life.

Reports of their abuse in Libyan detention camps, including killings, rape and torture have been regularly documented.

Hundreds of others have drowned at sea after human traffickers packed them into unsafe boats and undertook the perilous journey to Europe.

- African News Agency (ANA)