The Jamaican government is set to demand billions of pounds in reparations over the slave trade, and will send a petition directly to the Queen from the country’s attorney general in order to initiate the request.
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The UK formerly abolished slavery in 1834, after which former slave owners were paid 20 million pounds – a large sum at the time.
Jamaica’s petition is based on a private motion from Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, who says the country is owed some 7.6 billion pounds (US$10.5 billion), which he calculated to be roughly equivalent to the payout UK slave owners received nearly 200 years ago.
“We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced,” said Culture minister Olivia Grange as reported by Reuters.
“Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire.”
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“Redress is well overdue,” she added.
Jamaica was a centre of the slave trade, with the Spanish, then the British, forcibly transporting Africans to work on plantations of sugar cane, bananas and other crops that created fortunes for many of their owners.
An estimated 600,000 Africans were shipped to toil in Jamaica, according to the National Library of Jamaica.
Seized from Spain by the English in 1655, Jamaica was a British colony until it became independent in 1962. The West Indian country of almost three million people is part of the Commonwealth and the British monarch remains head of state.
“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners,” said Henry, the petitioner and a member of the ruling Jamaica Labor Party, adding “I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery which has dehumanized human life.”
The petition, with approval from Jamaica’s National Council on Reparations, will be filed pending advice from the attorney general and three legal teams, Grange said. The attorney general will then send it to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth, she added.
The initiative follows growing acknowledgement in some quarters of the role played by slavery in generating wealth in Britain, with businesses and seats of learning pledging financial contributions in compensation.
They include insurance market Lloyd’s of London, pub owner Greene King and the University of Glasgow.
Shocking new evidence has suggest that even the founders of the New York Times were slaveowners and even traded in minors.
Even, the ancestor of US Vice President Kamala Harris was the infamous white slave owner in Jamaica, Hamilton Brown.
Earlier this year, the Dutch government had promised to return all stolen colonial era objects to their countries of origin.