The Caribbean island nation will file a petition that could seek billions of pounds in reparations, pending legal advice, Olivia Grange, Jamaica’s minister of sports, youth and culture, said.
‘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,’ Grange told Reuters news agency in an interview at the weekend.
‘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,’ she said, adding: ‘Redress is well overdue.’
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 British in 1655, Jamaica was a British colony until it became independent in 1962. It is not clear whether Jamaica also intends to seek reparations from Spain.
According to Mail Online, the reparations petition is based on a private motion by Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry, who said it was worth some £7.6 billion, a sum he estimated is roughly equivalent in today’s terms to what Britain paid to the slaveholders.
‘I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners,’ said 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 dehumanised 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 Queen Elizabeth, she added.