On Tuesday, the US imposed sanctions on a Libyan national accused of abusing migrants. This comes amid growing alarms over human trafficking and inhumane conditions in the key gateway state to Europe.
In a statement, the US Department of State said it had frozen any assets and criminalized any transactions with Osama Al-Kuni Ibrahim, 45. He is described as the manager of the Al-Nasr detention center in Al-Zawiya, some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from Tripoli.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken said that Al-Kuni carried out “horrific abuses” against mostly African migrants, including killings and sexual violence.
“Today’s action promotes accountability and exposes the mistreatment, exploitation and violence being perpetrated against vulnerable migrants transiting Libya in pursuit of a better life,” the US Secretary of State said. He called on Libya’s Government of National Unity (GNU) to hold Al-Kuni and others perpetrating human rights abusers accountable.
The action follows a similar designation on Monday by the sanctions committee of the UN Security Council, which called on all nations to ban Al-Kuni from transiting through and to freeze any funds linked to him.
Human traffickers have profited from Libya’s chaos since the 2011 overthrow of Muammer Gaddafi.
European nations led by Italy have financed the Libyan Coast Guard, to return migrants to Libya. Human rights groups say that those sent back are often sent to jails mired in corrupt management and deplorable conditions.
On Sunday, Pope Francis urged governments to stop sending people back to Libya, voicing sadness at the “inhumane violence” perpetrated against migrants including children.