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Friday, February 3, 2023

Barbados Plans to Make Tory MP Pay Restitution for Family’s Slave Past

A year ago, Barbados abolished Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state to become a republic

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BARBADOS: The Barbados government is investigating proposals to make a wealthy Conservative MP the first person to make restitution for his ancestor’s crucial contribution to slavery.

According to the reports, South Dorset MP Richard Drax recently visited the Caribbean island for a personal meeting with Mia Mottley. The following steps, which include legal action if an agreement with Drax cannot be reached, are outlined in a report that is currently before Mottley’s cabinet.

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A year ago, Barbados abolished Queen Elizabeth II as its head of state to become a republic.

In the 17th century, the Drax family invented the plantation system, significantly impacting the growth of slavery and sugar in the Caribbean and the US.

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The UN has declared slavery to be a crime against humanity, according to Barbados MP Trevor Prescod, chairman of the Barbados National Task Force on Reparations, a part of the Caricom Reparations Commission. 

Prescod added that if the issue cannot be resolved, legal action will be taken in international courts. Since the Drax family would be held liable for centuries of servitude, any damages would likely be much greater than the value of the property.

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Countries in the Caribbean Community (Caricom) have been pressing former colonial powers and institutions that benefited from slavery to pay reparations. It has never happened before that a family has been picked out.

The conversion of the 17th-century Drax Hall into an Afro-centric museum and the use of a sizable piece of the plantation as social housing for low-income Bajan families are two options that are being looked into. Additionally, it is suggested that Richard Drax pay for some of the work.

The British royal family is among the families whose forebears benefited from slavery, according to David Comissiong, the Barbados ambassador to Caricom and deputy chairman of the task force: “It is now a subject that is before the government of Barbados. At the highest level, it is being handled.”

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