Jamaica is set to petition Queen Elizabeth for compensation to all its citizens as slavery reparations.
The Caribbean country’s government is to petition the British monarchy for billions of pounds of compensation but critics say British taxpayers have already paid to free slaves.
Merchants made a fortune as slave traders in Jamaica after it became a British Colony in 1707.
Many Jamaicans are descendants of slaves who suffered under the oppressive regime.
The country gained independence from the UK in 1962 but has kept the Queen as head of state.
And now Jamaica wants compensation as the country’s Culture Minister announced the move to its House of Representatives.
Olivia ‘Babsy’ Grange 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.”
She said Jamaica’s National Council of Reparation had fully backed the petition and ministers had agreed that: “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.”
David Cameron faced calls to pay billions of pounds in slavery reparations when he visited the former colony in 2015. That year, taxpayers finally paid off debt from compensating slave owners when the practice was abolished in 1833.
Thomas Mace-Archer-Mills, historian and founder of the British Monarchists Society, 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.”
He added: “Britain through the slave acts of the 1800s actually went into debt buying the freedom of slaves throughout the empire.
“At the time, the British government paid 20 million pounds, the equivalent of around 17 billion pounds today – to compensate slave owners for the lost capital associated with freeing slaves.
“This pay-out was a massive 40% of the government’s budget and required many bonds to slave owners to effectuate the law.”
However, most descendants of enslaved people have argued against this logic, saying Britain only paid off the slave owners and not the actual slaves who suffered the cruelty of the transatlantic slave trade and whose descendants continue to suffer from the legacy of that era.
More than 20,000 people signed an online petition calling on the UK government to compensate “all Caribbean & African Descendants” last December.