Refugees in the courtyard of a United Nations refugee agency building in Niamey, Niger, on Friday, after they were evacuated from Libya.

Sia Kambou/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The secretary general of the United Nations added his voice on Monday to a growing uproar over the reported auctioning of African migrants in Libya as slaves.

“I am horrified,” António Guterres said in a statement he read to reporters at the global organization’s headquarters.

“Slavery has no place on our world and these actions are among the most egregious abuses of human rights and may amount to crimes against humanity,” Mr. Guterres said, without taking questions.

Mr. Guterres, who led the United Nations refugee agency for a decade and has been outspoken about the mistreatment of migrants in Africa and elsewhere, said he had asked “the relevant United Nations actors” to conduct an investigation of the reported slave auctions.


Anti-slavery protesters demonstrated in Paris on Saturday.

Zakaria Abdelkafi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The uproar was touched off by a CNN report from Tripoli, Libya, last week, including what was described as surreptitiously recorded video of 12 African migrants auctioned at an undisclosed location there. CNN said it had shared the video with authorities in Libya, and that they had promised to investigate.

Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters demonstrated in front of the Libyan Embassy in central Paris, chanting “Put an end to the slavery and concentration camps in Libya!” and “Free our brothers!” Police dispersed them with tear-gas after the rally turned violent.

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