The slave auctions of the 21st century take place in Libya—but the biggest culprits are in the British, US and French governments and European Union (EU).
Footage released by CNN news last week showed black men being sold for manual labour on farms for the equivalent of a few hundred pounds.
And other investigations by Unicef and the International Organisation of Migration (IOM) have exposed widespread sexual violence against women and children.
Hundreds of protesters rallied at the Libyan embassy in Paris last Saturday. One told TV station France24, “We can’t let this kind of thing happen.”
It’s right to be furious, especially with the Western politicians who are responsible.
They worked with deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi to keep out migrants. Then when Libyans rose up in 2011, Britain and France launched a bombing campaign that turned the country into a hell-hole run by armed militias.
Parliament’s foreign affairs select committee blamed David Cameron for “political and economic collapse, humanitarian and migrant crises, widespread human rights violations” and more.
Now the EU is making sure that any refugees trying to leave Libya are trapped there.
Its ships patrol the sea between Libya and Italy—and the Royal Navy plays its part.
They destroy boats and hand people over to the corrupt Libyan coastguard they help to fund.
The Italian government has even been accused of funding the warlords who run Libya’s militia.
EU-led border clampdowns push desperate people onto ever more deadly routes.
A mass funeral was held in Italy last Friday for 26 Nigerian women and girls, who drowned alongside 64 others crossing the sea from Libya.
The IOM believes the women were being trafficked for sexual exploitation.
But border controls are also to blame for pushing people into the grip of ruthless traffickers and slavers.
Theresa May likes to grandstand over modern-day slavery, but her solution is always to further criminalise undocumented migrants.
It stigmatises those who haven’t been trafficked against their will, and leaves those who have with nowhere to turn.
And Western leaders used the plight of women held as slaves by Isis to win support for new wars in Iraq and Syria that displaced thousands.
Resisting the return of slavery means killing the sick system of wars and borders that is responsible.