Inside the auctions where people are sold for $400

Chilling footage shows slaves being auctioned off.
Chilling footage shows slaves being auctioned off. Photo credit: CNN

Hidden camera footage obtained by CNN has captured a series of blood-curdling auctions in Libya, that see men sold off as slaves for sums of just hundreds of dollars.

An exclusive report by the news outlet explains that one or two of the auctions take place in several locations throughout the northern part of the war-ravaged nation every month, at undisclosed addresses.

Video clips published in the chilling report show men being sold off by slavers for about 600 Libyan dinar (NZ$637) each - sometimes more, sometimes less - and being labelled merely as "merchandise", rather than acknowledged as human beings.

In one clip, the auctioneer's hand can be seen resting on one of the slave's shoulders as he sells him off as a "big strong boy for farm work". Another clip shows an auctioneer asking if anyone needs "a digger".

"This is a digger," he says. "A big strong man - he'll dig. What am I bid, what am I bid?"

CNN reports that after the auction, they were able to speak to two of the men who'd just been auctioned off. They were traumatised, the report said, to the point they were unable to speak because "they were suspicious of everyone they met".

The majority of those sold into slavery are migrants from other countries, the report says - people who had hoped to be taken on migrant ships across the Mediterranean and into Europe.

An increasing number aren't able to make the journey, however, with Libyan authorities imposing a crackdown on Mediterranean crossings - which means more are sold as slaves.

The report exposes yet another problem for Libya, an African nation that has been ravaged by violence, political in-fighting and occupation by Islamic State in recent years.