Libyan court sentences 3 people to prison terms for human trafficking

CAIRO (AP) — A court in the Libyan capital has sentenced three people to lengthy prison terms for human trafficking, in the first such ruling in a North African country where migrants are routinely abused.

The Tripoli Criminal Court convicted the three men of human trafficking, detention and torture of migrants, and extortion of their families to pay a ransom to free their loved ones, according to a statement issued Friday by the office of the chief processor of Libya.

The court sentenced one of the convicts to life in prison, while the other two were sentenced to 20 years each, according to the statement.

The statement did not reveal any other details, including their identities or nationalities. Attorney General al-Sediq al-Sourr was not immediately available for comment on Saturday.

Libya descended into chaos following a NATO-backed uprising that toppled and killed longtime autocrat Muammar Gaddafi in 2011. The country has since become the main transit point for migrants to the search for a better life in Europe.

Human traffickers have taken advantage of the instability in Libya and smuggled migrants across the country’s long border with six nations. They then embark desperate people in ill-equipped dinghies and other vessels on risky journeys on the way to the central Mediterranean Sea.

For years, the United Nations and rights groups have denounced the horrific conditions faced by migrants trafficked and smuggled across the Mediterranean.

UN-backed human rights experts said in March there was evidence that crimes against humanity had been committed against Libyans and migrants in Libya, including women forced into prison. sexual slavery.

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