Reparations for slavery

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Reparations for slavery is the idea that some form of compensatory payment should be made to the descendants of Africans who had been enslaved by the Atlantic Slave Trade.

Demands for reparations[edit]

In 1999, the African World Reparations and Repatriation Truth Commission called for "the West" to pay $777 trillion to Africa within five years.[1]

In 2004, Lloyds of London was sued by the descendants of African slaves. The case was not successful.[2] In Jamaica in 2004, a coalition of Rastafari movement groups argued that European countries formerly involved in the slave trade, especially Britain, should pay 72.5 billion pounds sterling to resettle 500,000 Jamaican Rastafarians in Africa. The claim was rejected by the British government, which said it could not be held accountable for wrongs in past centuries.[3]

On 27 November 2006, British Prime Minister Tony Blair made a partial apology for Britain's role in the African slavery trade. However African rights activists denounced it as "empty rhetoric" that failed to address the issue properly. They feel his apology stopped shy to prevent any legal retort.[4] Blair again apologized on March 14, 2007.[5]

On 24 August 2007, Ken Livingstone (then Mayor of London) apologized publicly for London's role in the slave trade. "You can look across there to see the institutions that still have the benefit of the wealth they created from slavery", he said pointing towards the financial district, before breaking down in tears. He claimed that London was still tainted by the horrors of slavery. Jesse Jackson praised Mayor Livingstone, and added that reparations should be made.[6][7]

In 2007, Guyana called for European nations to pay reparations for the slave trade.[8]

In 2011, Antigua & Barbuda called for reparations at the United Nations, saying "that segregation and violence against people of African descent had impaired their capacity for advancement as nations, communities and individuals".[9]

In 2012, Jamaica revived its reparations commission, to consider the question of whether the country should seek an apology or reparations from Britain for its role in the slave trade.[3] The opposition cited Britains role in the end of the slave trade as a reason that Britain should issue no reparations

Also in 2012, the Barbados government established a 12-member Reparations Task Force, to be responsible for sustaining the local, regional and international momentum for reparations.[10][11] Barbados is reportedly "currently leading the way in calling for reparations from former colonial powers for the injustices suffered by slaves and their families."[12]

In 2013, in the first of a series of lectures in Georgetown, Guyana, to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the 1763 Berbice Slave Revolt, Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Sir Hilary Beckles urged Caribbean Community (CARICOM) countries to emulate the position adopted by the Jews who were persecuted during the Second World War and have since organized a Jewish reparations fund.[13][14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Africa Trillions demanded in slavery reparations". BBC. August 20, 1999. 
  2. ^ Gavin Stamp, "Counting the cost of the slave trade", BBC News, 20 March 2007.
  3. ^ a b "Jamaicans Form Commission to Investigate Slavery Reparations from Britain". Associated Press. 1 November 2012. 
  4. ^ "Blair 'sorrow' over slave trade". BBC News, 27 November 2006. Accessed 15 March 2007.
  5. ^ "Blair 'sorry' for UK slavery role". BBC News, 14 March 2007. Accessed 15 March 2007.
  6. ^ "Livingstone breaks down in tears at slave trade memorial". Daily Mail, 24 August 2007. Accessed 22 July 2009.
  7. ^ Muir, Hugh (24 August 2007). "Livingstone weeps as he apologises for slavery". The Guardian. Retrieved 30 July 2014. 
  8. ^ "Guyana calls for reparations", BBC News, 27 March, 2007.
  9. ^ "Reparations should be made for African slave trade, Antigua and Barbuda tells UN", UN News Center, 24 September 2011.
  10. ^ "Barbados Takes Lead in Fight For Reparations for Slavery in the Caribbean", Atlanta Black Star, November 6, 2012.
  11. ^ Patrick Hunter, "CARICOM and reparations for slavery", Share, 20 February 2013.
  12. ^ Sanchez Manning, "Britain's colonial shame: Slave-owners given huge payouts after abolition", The Independent, 24 February 2013.
  13. ^ [ "UWI principal wants CARICOM to seek reparation for slavery", Jamaica Observer, 12 February 2013.
  14. ^ Rony Best, "The Case for Reparations", The New York Carib News, 6 march 2013.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]