Justice for Britain's former slave colonies? Caribbean leaders to ask the UK for apologies, repatriation and debt cancellation

 

Deputy Political Editor

For many Rastas, a desire to return to their African ancestral homeland is a central tenet of their belief.

Now Caribbean leaders are calling on European nations to help repatriate members of the Rastafarian movement to the continent that inspired their way of life.

The demand is part of a growing campaign by Caribbean governments for reparations from their former colonial masters for what they view as the remaining ill-effects of the slave trade on the West Indies.

Their shopping list includes the cancellation of debts to such countries as Britain, France and the Netherlands.

They are also pressing for the establishment of a “repatriation programme” to help resettle Rastafarians in Africa. It would involve European governments providing legal and diplomatic help to people who want to start a new life on the continent.

Between 600,000 and one million people are estimated to follow the faith internationally, some 100,000 of whom live in Jamaica, with smaller numbers in other Caribbean island states such as Barbados and Trinidad and Tobago. According to the 2001 Census, around 5,000 Britons are part of the movement.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom), which brings together 15 nations and dependencies, decided to press ahead with the demands following a private meeting in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to Leigh Day, the law firm which is representing them, the countries are calling for reparation payments to repair the persisting “psychological trauma” from the days of slavery.

They argue that they should be given help to boost their industrial base as they were confined in colonial days to producing and exporting raw materials such as sugar and fruit.

In addition, they are calling for European help to strengthen health care, schools and cultural institutions such as museums.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said yesterday it had not received a formal request for reparations, but added that it would not bow to any such demands.

A spokeswoman said: “The UK has been clear that we deplore the human suffering caused by slavery and the slave trade. They are amongst the most dishonourable and abhorrent chapters in the history of humanity.

“However we do not see reparations as the answer. Instead, we should concentrate on identifying ways forward with a focus on the shared global challenges that face our countries in the 21st century.”

However, Martyn Day, a senior partner at Leigh Day, described the Caricom plan as a “fair set of demands on the governments whose countries grew rich at the expense of those regions whose human wealth was stolen from them”.

His company helped to win compensation for surviving Kenyans who were tortured by Britain during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s and 1960s.

Mr Day said a planned meeting in London between European and Caribbean officials would “enable our clients to quickly gauge whether or not their concerns are being taken seriously”.

Caricom launched its campaign in July, setting up a Caribbean Reparations Commission which argues that far more needs to be down for the descendants of slaves in the islands.

It insists slavery is the “root cause of their suffering today” even though the practice was abolished by Britain in 1807, by the Netherlands in 1814 and by France in 1818.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
News
A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
news
Life and Style
love + sex
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot