Bringing Light to the Darkness of Human Trafficking (Trafficking in Persons)

Picture: Reuters/Kacper Pempel

Johannesburg – The Belgian government has been accused of financing Libyan militias involved in human trafficking through frozen Libyan assets, a report by Belgian RTBF radio said on Tuesday.

An anonymous source “close to the secret services”, said that Belgium had not been neutral in Libya’s 2011 migration crisis, the radio reported.

On Tuesday the Libya Herald reported that the secret service source claimed Libyan militias for seven years had access "to all the weapons they needed".

It said that rival militias in the country had battled each other for control of resources and territory since the overthrow and death of former Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, following the Arab Spring in 2011. It also said that the ongoing violence involved human trafficking involving thousands of Africans.

The situation was also exacerbated by the existence of two opposing governments, one internationally recognised and based in the capital Tripoli, and the other based in Tobruk in the east of the country.

A number of countries have openly armed the militias, who have also been able to obtain weapons elsewhere.

Two scandals have been linked to airplanes loaded with weapons that were stopped at Belgium’s Ostend Airport, the Libya Herald reported.

During Libya’s 2011 revolution the UN Security Council froze Libya’s sovereign assets abroad including in four Belgian banks - BNP Paribas Fortis (€43 million – over R714 million), ING (€376 million), KBC (€869 million) and Euroclear Bank (€12.8 billion).

Although the UN froze Libya's major assets, the interest and dividends accruing from them were not frozen the report said, with between 3 and 5 billion euros leaving the accounts since 2012.

The Libya Herald also reported that nobody could account for what had happened to the money and that despite pressure from Belgian parliamentarians, their government had not given them a satisfactory response.

However, the report said that the Belgian finance minister justified the government’s decision to release the interest earned on Libyan frozen funds in terms of an opinion issued by the Legal Service of the Council of the European Union in October 2011.

The UN Panel of Experts on Libya said in a final report in September this year that the payment of interest and other income contradicted the decision to freeze Libyan assets in general and violated sanctions on Tripoli.

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