Home Opinion Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity

Archbishop Desmond Tutu: Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity

Statement from the Archbishop Tutu Fellows to African Heads of State and the International Private Sector, Civil Society and Multilateral Organisations on the Great Stain of Slavery in Libya

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Your Excellencies, leaders of private sector and civil society organisations, policy makers at the United Nations and the African Union and fellow Africans,

Slavery in Libya is a crime against humanity and immediate action is required by all stakeholders, including African governments, to put an end to this outrageous practice and hold responsible parties accountable.

There are three Great Stains on humanity; War, Genocide and Slavery.

They are the Great Stains not only because they are the fertile soil for many other debasing evils; they are Great Stains because they are assaults and crimes against humanity.

The prevalence of war, genocide and slavery historically is by no means the measure by which we as humanity can accept such behavior as normative, then or now.

Slavery has spawned intergenerational social and economic disruption to the Continent of Africa and other areas; and has stolen the liberties and lives of people for the commoditization of their bodies against their will.

The slave trade is a crime against Humanity.

It is abhorrent to humanity.

It is monstrous.

It is an assault on the dignity of all.

Slavery can and must be stopped.

We, Archbishop Tutu Fellows, call upon the United Nations Security Council and its related organs to urgently declare the practice of Slavery – particularly in Libya- a threat against humanity and to work closely with civil society and member states to arrest the slave trade and create an effective punitive framework to combat against the slave trade globally.

We call upon the Africa Union to demonstrate continental leadership in aggregating national voices on ensuring slavery remains a historical footnote.

We call upon all African heads of State to take action to hold each other accountable, and to engage with other states beyond the continent who can make a contribution toward eradicating the Slave trade, and to stanch the capital flows and lack of consequence which makes this vile economy thrive.

We call upon businesses invested in countries such as Libya- which have failed to abide by the unwritten laws of humanity- to divest and support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon the NGO community invested in the fight against human trafficking, forced labor, involuntary migration, social justice and the betterment of the planet to support the removal of the Great Stain.

We call upon all Africans, in particular the nations of the African North, to support the removal of the Great Stain in all its forms.

We call upon the instruments of justice– national and international- to charge beneficiaries of the slave trade as Enemies of humanity.

As Archbishop Tutu Fellows and as Africans, we request the following immediate course of action:

  1. All African countries to recall their ambassadors and diplomatic representatives from Libya, as some have already done.
  2. Appropriate, responsible and action-oriented responses from the countries of origin of our enslaved African brothers and sisters in Libya, with a clear request for support from the international community where needed.
  3. Firm action against Libya from the African Union, of which the country is a member, such as suspension from the multilateral organization once investigations have been concluded.
  4. Other African countries to follow Rwanda’s lead and accept African brothers and sisters who are caught in the slave trade in Libya, and pan-African support for these African host countries.

As a network of more than 300 emerging young African leaders, we, the Archbishop Tutu Fellows, are willing and able to assist where such assistance is needed. We are deeply aware that it is pertinent upon the conscience and humanity of every member of the international community to act against the evils to which our fellow human beings are subject to in Libya. The urgency of the situation is such that we need to act now. Our ancestors fought slavery over hundreds of years and we cannot bear witness to its evils today and do nothing.