Shocking footage obtained by CNN has shown people being auctioned for as little as $400 in Africa.
Carrying concealed cameras, journalists witnessed dozens of people go “under the hammer” in the space of six or seven minutes in the Libyan capital of Tripoli.
Shouts of “Does anybody need a digger?” can be heard from salespeople, who receive bids until they sell off their captive slaves.
Reporters say the market has been built on the back of a crackdown on refugee boats reaching Europe, which has left smugglers with a backlog of would-be passengers on their hands – making the smugglers the masters and the migrants and refugees slaves.
First Lieutenant Naser Hazam of the government’s Anti-Illegal Immigration Agency in Tripoli told CNN that although he had not witnessed a slave auction, he acknowledged that organised gangs are operating smuggling rings in the country.
“They fill a boat with 100 people, those people may or may not make it,” he says. “(The smuggler) does not care as long as he gets the money, and the migrant may get to Europe or die at sea.”
Anes Alazabi, a supervisor at a detention center in Tripoli for migrants that are due to be deported, says he’s heard “a lot of stories” about the abuse carried out by smugglers.
“I’m suffering for them. What I have seen here daily, believe me, it makes me feel pain for them.
“Every day I can hear a new story from people. You have to listen to all of them. It’s their right to deliver their voices.”
Watch the painful footage below: