A coalition of 14 Caribbean states, including Jamaica, agrees with Mr Thompson, and is now mounting the first united campaign for reparations from Britain over its role in the Atlantic slave trade.
Represented by CARICOM, the regional organisation, the group is prepared to sue in the courts. It has hired Leigh Day, the London law firm that last year won £20 million for Kenyans tortured by the British during the Mau Mau rebellion of the 1950s.
This month it will unveil a list of 10 demands for Britain, France and Holland, including funds likely to total billions, an apology, and assurances slavery will never be repeated, The Telegraph can disclose.
Professor Verene Shepherd, the chairman of Jamaica’s reparations committee, said British colonisers had “disfigured the Caribbean,” and that their descendants must now pay to repair the damage.
“If you commit a crime against humanity, you are bound to make amends,” Prof Shepherd told The Telegraph. “The planters were given compensation, but not one cent went to the freed Jamaicans”.
No longer “sugar cane-dependent,” a few village residents still work in the industry, he said, centring on a former Tate & Lyle factory in nearby Frome now owned, aptly, by the Chinese government.
Yet there are still descendents of freed slaves in the area “who hardly manage to really do anything,” said Mr Walker, who urged Mr Cameron to use his position to “fast-track” some kind of compensation.
“There is no statute of limitations on a crime against humanity,” Lord Gifford, who defended members of the Guildford Four and Birmingham Six, told The Telegraph. “The claim is soundly based in law.”
Martyn Day, the senior partner at Leigh Day, has said a case could start next year at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Unlike with the Mau Mau, however, there would be no living witnesses.
In support, Prof Shepherd and her colleagues argue that slavery is to blame for a litany of modern ills across the Caribbean, extending to epidemics of diabetes and hypertension allegedly rooted in the salty diets that were forced on the ancestors of sufferers.
For Willie Thompson, though, it would be a start. “I don’t say that giving us money would make it all right,” he said. “What’s happened has happened already. But I think it is on the side of justice that we deserve something.”
Hmmmm. Why is India doing so much better than the Carribean? Or Hong Kong? Egypt?Bahrain, Kuwait,Oman, Qatar, UAE and Singapore were all British colonies and they’re better off than the Carribean.
I’m not going to mention the US, Canada, Ireland and Australia. Or that Liberia and Ivory Coast never had slavery and are at least as bad off as the Carribean.
S. Africa was doing pretty well until it was handed over to Africans, coincidence?