Jamaica plans to ask Britain for reparations over the Atlantic slave trade in the former British colony.
According to Reuters, a senior government official said via a petition the amount could be in the billions of pounds.
Spain and Britain were two of the countries at the epicenter of the slave trade, tearing Africans from their home continent to work on plantations of sugar cane, bananas and other crops that created fortunes for their owners.
"We are hoping for reparatory justice in all forms that one would expect if they are to really ensure that we get justice from injustices to repair the damages that our ancestors experienced," Olivia Grange, Minister of Sports, Youth and Culture, told Reuters. "Our African ancestors were forcibly removed from their home and suffered unparalleled atrocities in Africa to carry out forced labour to the benefit of the British Empire. Redress is well overdue."
According to the National Library of Jamaica, an estimated 600,000 Africans were shipped to the Carribean country since it was seized from Spain in 1655. Jamaica became independent in 1962 but is still part of the British Commonwealth.
To compensate slave owners, the British government took out a 20 million pound loan -- a huge amount at the time -- after it prohibited the trading of slaves in 1807. The ensuing interest on the loan wasn’t paid off until 2015, Reuters reports.
The estimated worth of reparations could be some 7.6 billion pounds, a number estimated on a private motion by Jamaican lawmaker Mike Henry and based on the equivalent in today’s terms to what Britain paid slaveholders.
"I am asking for the same amount of money to be paid to the slaves that was paid to the slave owners," said Henry. "I am doing this because I have fought against this all my life, against chattel slavery which has dehumanized human life."
The petition has been approved by Jamaica's National Council on Reparations and will be filed pending advice from the attorney general and three legal teams, said Grange. The attorney general will subsequently send it to Britain's Queen Elizabeth.