Henry reiterates commitment to continue advocating for reparationsThursday, May 30, 2019
KINGSTON, Jamaica — Minister without Portfolio in the Office of the Prime Minister, Michael Henry, has reiterated his commitment to continue advocating strongly for reparations for the descendants of slaves.
“We (have) prepared the affidavit to serve on the Queen. All the issues have been addressed by the National [Council] on Reparations, and it's done in my name. So, I'm waiting on the Attorney General and others to make comments on it. I can't go much further in terms of the Government, except for my own personal position,” he said.
Henry restated his commitment when Reparation Activist, Esther Stanford and President, Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA), Steven Golding, called on him at Jamaica House today (May 30).
“I am holding the Queen responsible for having not defended my rights. The rights of the plantocrats were admitted to and paid for from the British Treasury, but they have not yet paid the slaves, so I'm taking it a step at a time,” he said.
Henry pointed out that although chattel slavery was banned in Britain, it was used to assist in the economic development of that country.
The minister said depending on the decision of the Privy Council, the matter will be taken to the highest international courts of justice.
Henry recognised Stanford for her advocacy on the issue of reparations. “I'm very pleased to pay tribute to your work and say how great it is that we have come together at this point,” he said.
The National Council on Reparations (NCR) was set up to receive submissions, hear testimonies, evaluate research and carry out public consultations with the aim of guiding a national response to reparations.
It is also to present recommendations for diplomatic initiatives, security considerations, education and public information required to guide the reparation process. The NCR was previously known as the National Commission on Reparations.
The minister's strong advocacy has been bolstered by the Parliament's approval of his Private Member's Motion on Reparations for Slavery.
For her part, Stanford said while there are various discussions and approaches on reparations, the topic remains critical.
During the meeting, Golding suggested that an international reparations conference be held in Jamaica, which will bring together stakeholders to further discuss the matter.
In the meantime, Henry presented Stanford with an autographed copy of his publication, 'Many Rivers to Cross – A Political Journey of Audacious Hope'. The book reflects the life and works of Henry.
Stanford will be participating in two public lectures, which will be held at Liberty Hall in Kingston on Sunday, June 2, and in St Mary on Tuesday, June 4.
She departs the island on Wednesday, June 5.