UK Government Opposes Caribbean Reparations Bid
Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves
But the region’s nations press on with plans to sue for millions in compensation over slavery
THE UK Government is rebuffing attempts by several Caribbean countries to force it to pay reparations for slavery.
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office told The Voice that money was not the solution to righting the sins of the past. A spokesperson said: “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."
“Slavery was and is abhorrent. It is a sad fact that, although slavery is outlawed internationally, millions of people are still living in conditions of slavery worldwide. The UK unreservedly condemns slavery and is committed to eliminating it.”
When slavery was abolished in Britain in 1834, £20 million of taxpayers’ money was paid to slave owners as compensation for loss of ‘property’.
The sum represented 40 per cent of the Government’s annual spending at the time and would be worth approximately £16bn ($25.6 billion) by today’s standards.
The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) – an economic group of 15 Caribbean countries – used the platform of the UN General Assembly last week to advance their lobby for reparations on the basis that the legacy of slavery and colonialism caused irreversible damage to the socio-economic growth of the region.
The group of tiny Caribbean islands, the majority of which were former colonies of Britain, has since filed a lawsuit against Britain for its role in slavery in the English-speaking Caribbean nations, France for its role in Haiti, and the Netherlands for Suriname, which is located in South America.
Speaking at the United Nations General Assembly on September 27, Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves argued that European nations must pay for their deeds.
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