The serious allegations made by American broadcaster CNN on 17 November about the existence of several modern-day slave markets in Libya remain shockingly unaddressed by Fayez Serraj’s UN-backed government.
The station put the ball in Mr Serraj’s court on 17 November by declaring: “The evidence filmed by CNN has now been handed over to the Libyan authorities, who have promised to launch an investigation”. This proves that the Libyan government not only knows the locations of those markets, but also the names of suspected culprits.
If Mr Serraj thinks that he could sweep the problem under the rug by giving empty promises about conducting investigations, he should think again. Today the issue topped the agenda of the United Nations Security Council meeting and it continues to draw widespread condemnations across the globe from heads of state, sports and Hollywood celebrities who have all called for the problem to be thoroughly addressed.
Yet ignorant of the fact that the reputation of the entire Libyan people is at stake, Mr Serraj seems to be concerned most about defending the reputation of his own government. This is probably why one of his officials told CNN that part of the investigation will be “assessing whether all the locations of these auctions are under the control of the United Nations-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli”. Mr Serraj must quit this partisan mentality and start acting as leader of the whole country.
It is quite possible however that the GNA may never be able to name and shame the culprits if they were found to be part of or close to the militias that are protecting its offices in Tripoli. That is why CNN has a moral obligation to release those names.
The international momentum behind this issue provides Mr Serraj with a unique opportunity to rid Tripoli of criminal militias. It's imperative that he seizes it to prevent further suffering on the victims — migrants and Libyans alike.