BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, March 29, 2007 – The Executive Committee of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean (EAC) has endorsed the call from CARICOM Heads of Governments for the payment of reparations for slavery.
The EAC has estimated the compensation paid to plantation owners in each colony in the West Indies, prior to 1840, to be conservatively in excess of £5 billion at today’s value but the association did not put a figure on how much it believes Britain ought to pay descendants of slaves. The actual cost back then was £20 million split between Jamaica, British Guiana (now Guyana), Barbados, Trinidad, Grenada, St. Vincent, Antigua, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, Dominica, Tobago, Nevis, Bahamas, Montserrat, British Honduras (now Belize), the Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. Each island was allocated £1,719,980.
“Nothing was ever paid to the slaves as compensation for their having been forcibly removed from their homeland, transported across the Atlantic Ocean to another land, and forced – often in a most brutal manner – to work the sugar cane plantations. This is for us a justice issue as it seems manifestly unjust that the plantation owners should be paid compensation for the loss of their slave ‘property’ at emancipation but the slaves themselves, or their descendants, have never received compensation for having been enslaved,” the EAC said in a release yesterday.
In a petition to Queen Elizabeth of Britain, the EAC, citing a legal opinion by Lord Anthony Gifford, QC has urged the Queen to intervene to ensure reparations for the descendants of the slave trade.
“We, your humble subjects, therefore beseech Your Most Gracious Majesty’s assistance and succour in this matter in utilising Your Majesty’s vast influence to suggest to Your Majesty’s United Kingdom Government that the time has come for the Government of the United Kingdom in consort with other European Governments who supported and promoted the enslavement of Your Majesty’s African subjects to rectify the injustices of the past and pay to the descendants of those enslaved on the sugar plantations of Your Majesty’s realms of The Caribbean and Africa an amount at least equal in value as that paid to the plantation owners in the early Nineteenth Century,” the EAC wrote.
“We believe this to be just because it was Your Majesty’s United Kingdom Government which paid the plantation owners in the nineteenth century and neglected to compensate the slaves themselves, victims of one of the most brutal forms of slavery ever practiced. We also believe this to be a just request in that the United Kingdom profited significantly from the sugar plantations of the Caribbean.”
In a response from Buckingham Palace, Senior Correspondence Officer, Sonia Bonici, in acknowledging the letter received via the Governor General’s Office in Barbados said that it was not a matter in which the Queen would intervene or comment and that it was rightly addressed to the Governor General of Barbados.
“As a constitutional Sovereign, Her Majesty acts on the advice of her Ministers, and I have, therefore, been instructed to forward your letter to the Right Honourable Jack Straw MP, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, so that your approach to The Queen may be known and consideration given to the points you raise.”
The correspondence to and from the Queen can be read at http://www.caribevangelical.org/pdfs/PetitionQEII.pdf.