Photo Credit: Kristen Sturdivant
Jamaica Plans To Petition Queen For 'Overdue' Reparations For Caribbean
Jamaica became an English colony in 1655 after the British seized the Caribbean island from the Spanish. The number of slaves present in Jamaica reached up to 600,000 in the eighteenth century.
“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,” Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture Olivia Grange told Reuters. “Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labor to the benefit of the British Empire. Redress is well overdue.”
Grange did not go into detail about how much Jamaica is seeking, but Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry says the UK owes at least $10.5 billion in reparations.
Once the petition is approved by Jamaica’s National Council on Reparation, the attorney general will send it to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II.
Even though Jamaica gained independence from Britain in 1962, the Queen still serves as the Caribbean nation’s Head of State.
Slavery was abolished by Britain in 1807 through the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act. But slavery existed until the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 brought an end to it.
As a result of the act, slave owners were given financial compensation for losing people they had enslaved as they were deemed as their property. The British government borrowed a little more than $20 million to make sure slave owners were compensated.
“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that were paid to the slave owners,” says Henry, a member of the ruling Jamaica Labour Party. “I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery, which has dehumanized human life.”