Jamaica plans to seek billions in reparations from the United Kingdom to compensate for the horrors of chattel slavery.
Jamaican officials told Reuters they plan to formally petition the United Kingdom for reparations to atone for the enslavement of Africans who were brought to the island.
“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,” Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, told the outlet.
“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,” she continued. “Redress is well overdue.”
Jamaica became a British colony in 1665 after the United Kingdom seized power from Spain. The country didn’t receive its independence until almost 300 years later. Even though Jamaica is independent, the nation is a member of the British Commonwealth, a collection of countries that consider Queen Elizabeth their head of state. In December, Jamaican legislator Mikael Phillips submitted a proposal to leave the commonwealth and remove the queen as head of state.
After the British slave trade was abolished in 1834, Britain took out a £20 million loan to repay slaveowners for the lost labor. The loan’s interest was paid off in 2015. Jamaican’s push for reparations is based on a petition from parliament member Mike Henry, who believes his nation deserves a similar arrangement.
“I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners,” Henry told Reuters. “I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery, which has dehumanized human life.”
Jamaica’s initiative has garnered support on social media.
Jamaica demanding reparations from England over slavery is the only news I care about right now.
— The Brandon Gonez Show (@brandongonez) July 13, 2021
I love that Jamaica is demanding their reparations from slavery and starting up petitions, all while separating ties from the UK & removing the Queen as head of state. Our independence is gonna be big this year fr
— Also not a Virgo (@liyahswrld) July 14, 2021
“I 1000000% support Jamaica requesting reparations from Britain for slavery,” wrote one person. “Any country that has fallen victim to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism & Illegal wars curtesy of the UK should be entitled to ALL that they have lost.”
“Jamaica demanding reparations from England over slavery is the only news I care about right now,” admitted another tweeter.
I 1000000% support Jamaica requesting reparations from Britain for slavery.
Any country that has fallen victim to the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade, Colonialism, Neo-Colonialism & Illegal wars curtesy of the UK should be entitled to ALL that they have lost.
— J (@JoshMunro) July 14, 2021
It’s Jamaica demanding reparations from GB for meeeeeee. I love this song. pic.twitter.com/Vs7X4vPJIp
— BABY K ✨ (@Shakima_Lachell) July 13, 2021
Henry believes Jamaica is owed at least $10 billion, but Grange did not reveal a figure. Once the petition is approved by the Jamaican National Council on Reparations, the attorney general and three legal teams will review it. If it checks out, the attorney general will send the request to Queen Elizabeth.
Michelle Bachelet, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, recently urged former slaveholding countries to compensate descendants, per The Associated Press. The comments follow the release of findings from research that began following the death of George Floyd.
During a presentation of the document, Bachelet said researchers “could not find a single example of a state that has comprehensively reckoned with its past or accounted for its impacts on the lives of people of African descent today.”
“Establishing the truth about these legacies, and their impact today, and taking steps to address this harm through a wide range of reparations measures is crucial to healing our societies and providing justice for terrible crimes,” Bachelet said on Monday. “Measures taken to address the past will transform our future.”