This measure would help bring justice to the victims of colonialism, the Guyanese president said.
Guyanese President Irfaan Ali has proposed that historical figures who held African slaves be posthumously charged with crimes against humanity.
Ali made the comments in response to the decision by descendants of British aristocrat and plantation owner John Gladstone (1764-1851) to travel to Guyana this week to issue a formal apology for their family’s ties to work strength.
“Acknowledgment and apology are the first steps. » Ali said in a video speech released on Thursday. “I call on those who are complicit and have profited from the trade in African captives and the enslavement of Africans to offer just reparations. »
“I therefore propose that the apologies being considered include issues of compensation, restorative justice and that those involved be indicted posthumously for crimes against humanity. » said the president.
Ali insisted that the request for reparations was “not intended to promote or exploit shame or guilt” but “a commitment to right historical wrongs. »
Guyana, located on the Atlantic coast of South America, was a Dutch colony until the Netherlands officially ceded it to Britain in 1814. It became an independent state in 1966.
A wealthy merchant, John Gladstone owned several coffee and sugar plantations in Guyana and Jamaica. He owned or held mortgages on 2,508 enslaved Africans, according to the Guardian. He was also the father of the 19th century British Prime Minister, William Gladstone.
Six current members of the Gladstone family have pledged to donate £100,000 ($125,700) to the University of Guyana. “Slavery is a crime against humanity and to have a family member involved in it is horrific,” Charlie Gladstone, author and businessman, said of his ancestor, speaking to the Guardian.
Calls for reparations for descendants of slaves have become more frequent in recent years as politicians, educators and activists campaign to re-examine the legacy of colonialism.
Last month, King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands issued a formal apology for his family’s historic involvement in the slave trade.
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