National Trust address colonialism and slavery report criticism
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The Jamaican government is set to petition Her Majesty for compensation to all its citizens for Britain’s role in the slave trade. The Caribbean island became a British Colony in 1707 and British merchants made a fortune from Jamaican slaves. The country now wants compensation for “the victims and descendants of the transatlantic slave trade”, with a leading politician launching a petition to seek reparations from Britain.
Jamaica’s Culture Minister, Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange, announced the move to its House of Representatives earlier this week.
She said: “We are especially pleased to announce that we have made further steps in our strides towards seeking reparatory justice for the victims and descendants of the transatlantic slave trade.
“The petition is to be presented to the Queen of the UK and or the government of the UK.”
Ms Grange said Jamaica’s National Council of Reparation had fully backed the petition and ministers were due to consider the petition.
She added: “The Attorney General’s chambers would need to weigh up the merits of the petition in the eventuality of the government of Jamaica’s involvement in the petition and that it would be the responsibility of the Attorney General’s chambers to file the petition on behalf of the people of Jamaica.”
It is not the first time Jamaica has called for slave reparations, with then prime minister David Cameron facing calls to compensate descendants of slaves when he visited the colony in 2015.
The British Empire began in the 16th century, when the UK started to spread its country’s rule across the globe.
The British monarch was the nominal head of the empire, which at its peak spanned over a quarter of the world’s land area.
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The Empire began to crumble at the end of the Second World War, when a swathe of country’s sought independence from the British Government.
By the late 1960s, most of Britain’s colonies had declared themselves independent.
Jamaica split from the Empire in 1962 but joined the Commonwealth in the same year.
The country continues to have the Queen as its head of state.
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Britain outlawed slavery in 1807, with the passage of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Act.
But it wasn’t until the 1833 Slavery Abolition Act that slavery itself was called to a halt.
The law mandated a slave compensation package, paid exclusively to slave owners for compensation of losing their “property” – what slaves were considered as at the time.
The British Government borrowed £20million to fund the scheme (about £300bn today), which amounted to a whopping 40 percent of the Treasury’s annual income and was one of the largest loans in history.
The Treasury only finished off paying the debt in 2015.
Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, historian and founder of the British Monarchists Society, is heavily opposed to giving compensation to Jamaica.
He said: “Britain has already paid its share and then some – the price of freedom for Jamaica’s slaves.
“There needs to come a day where individuals, peoples, and the nations of today need to take accountability for themselves, their own actions, and situations, and stop blaming centuries old dead people and less savoury histories of the past.”
A HM Treasury spokesman said: “While reparations are not part of the Government’s approach, we feel deep sorrow for the transatlantic slave trade, and fully recognise the strong sense of injustice and the legacy of slavery in the most affected parts of the world.”
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