UK Parliament debates Libyan slave trade

Migrants sit in rows Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The International Organisation for Migration says it has gathered evidence of slavery in Libya

MPs have called on the British government to take urgent action to prevent African migrants being sold as slaves in Libya.

Footage of young men being auctioned off as farm workers, broadcast by CNN, has prompted international outrage.

A debate on the issue, in the House of Commons, was triggered by a petition supported by celebrities including Cara Delevingne, Naomi Campbell and Stormzy.

The government says tackling modern-day slavery is a foreign policy priority.

Migrants trying to reach Europe have spoken of being held by smugglers and forced to work for little or no money.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Cara Delevingne has helped to highlight the plight of migrants enslaved in Libya

The CNN footage showed migrants from Niger and other sub-Saharan countries being sold for about £300 each.

At a parliamentary debate on Monday, MPs accused the government of failing to persuade the authorities in Libya to crack down on the slave trade.

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The Conservative MP Paul Scully said "I am asking the UK government to put pressure on the Libyan government to take immediate action to stop these criminals from selling more people, to set current prisoners free, arrest the criminals and end this."

Labour's Afzal Khan said the scenes from Libya were "shocking and horrific".

Chris Law, of the Scottish National Party, said that while the UK Government's approach to modern slavery had slowly improved in recent years, it now had to co-ordinate global action by 'leading from the front'.

Image copyright Jan Mukiibi
Image caption Jan says the government are taking a step in the right direction

Jan Mukiibi, who is 19 and from London, attended one of the anti-slavery protests held in London earlier this month. She said it was important for Africans across the world to unite against any return to slavery.

She said: "The UK is one of the most powerful countries in the world, the government should intervene and send troops. What's happening is immoral, we need to show we won't stand for this.

"The debate is a step in the right direction but I still think more can be done, an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere."

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