Congresswoman Karen Bass Introduces Bill Calling for U.S. Sanctions Unless Libya Halts Slavery


Rep. Karen Bass

Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) has introduced a resolution that condemns the migrant slave auctions in Libya that were exposed in a recent CNN International report.

The bill calls for the government in Libya to hold accountable human “smugglers, traffickers, detention center guards, and anyone else involved..”

The bill calls for the U.S. to “impose sanctions against Libya if the country fails to end slave auctions and other forms of forced labor..”

The bill demands that Libya allow the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to regularly monitor and publicly report on the situation of all refugees and migrants in Libya, including those detained in official detention centers.

The resolution calls upon the Trump Administration to develop strategies to rapidly respond to the migrant and refugee situation in Libya and also demands that the government of Libya conduct an immediate investigation into the slave auctions taking place in the country. It also recommends that the African Union conduct its own investigation into this human rights crisis.

“Congress cannot sit idly by as news of the Libya slave trade spreads,” Bass, the top Democrat on the House Subcommittee on Africa, said. “Slavery is a crime against humanity. This resolution calls for a comprehensive response, both domestically and internationally, to this report, which is what we’ll need going forward to take an effective stand against this tragedy. Thank you to my colleagues for standing together against the heinous act.”

The bill also calls for the U.S. Secretary of State and Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International
Development to use allocated funds for the “provision of humanitarian assistance to migrants and refugees in detention centers in Libya.”

There are an estimated 700,000 and one million migrants and refugees in Libya.

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has reported that unaccompanied children who crossed the Mediterranean suffered enslavement, violence, and sexual abuse at the hands of smugglers and traffickers.

The bill has been cosponsored by a bipartisan coalition of 40 Members of Congress (Reps. Eliot Engel (NY), Ted Poe (TX), Barbara Lee (CA), Cedric Richmond (LA), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX), John Lewis (GA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (District of Columbia), Sanford Bishop Jr. (GA), James “Jim” Clyburn (SC), Alcee L. Hastings (FL), Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX), Bennie G. Thompson (MS), Earl Blumenauer (OR), James P. McGovern (MA), Lacy Clay, Jr. (MO), Wm. Lacy Clay (MO), Emanuel Cleaver II (MO), Gwen Moore (WI), Steve Cohen (TN), Andre Carson (IN), Marcia Fudge (OH), Terri Sewell (AL), Joyce Beatty (OH), Hakeem Jeffries (NY), Beto O’Rourke (TX), Mark Pocan (WI), Marc Veasey (TX), Robin Kelly (IL), Stacey Plaskett (Virgin Islands), Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ), Lisa Rochester (DE), Val Demings (FL), Adriano Espaillat (NY), Brenda Lawrence (MI), Mia Love (UT), Ro Khanna (CA), Lloyd Doggett (TX), Bobby L. Rush (IL), Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ), and Alma Adams (NC).)

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