The federal government of Barbados is contemplating plans to make a rich Conservative MP the primary particular person to pay reparations for his ancestor’s pivotal function in slavery.
The Observer understands that Richard Drax, MP for South Dorset, just lately travelled to the Caribbean island for a personal assembly with the nation’s prime minister, Mia Mottley. A report is now earlier than Mottley’s cupboard laying out the subsequent steps, which embody authorized motion within the occasion that no settlement is reached with Drax.
Barbados turned a republic a yr in the past after it eliminated Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.
The Drax household pioneered the plantation system within the Seventeenth century and performed a serious function within the improvement of sugar and slavery throughout the Caribbean and the US.
Barbados MP Trevor Prescod, chairman of Barbados Nationwide Job Power on Reparations, a part of the Caricom Reparations Commission, mentioned the UN had declared slavery to be a criminal offense towards humanity: “If the difficulty can’t be resolved we’d take authorized motion within the worldwide courts. The case towards the Drax household can be for a whole lot of years of slavery, so it’s probably any damages would go nicely past the worth of the land.”
Nations within the Caribbean group (Caricom) have been campaigning for the cost of reparations by former colonial powers and establishments which profited from slavery. That is the primary time a household has been singled out.
Among the many plans being thought-about are that Seventeenth-century Drax Corridor is was an Afro-centric museum and that a big portion of the plantation is used for social housing for low-income Bajan households. There may be additionally a advice that Richard Drax pays for among the work.
David Comissiong, the Barbados ambassador to Caricom and deputy chairman of the duty pressure, mentioned that apart from Drax, different households whose ancestors benefited from slavery are being thought-about together with the British royal household: “It’s now a matter that’s earlier than the federal government of Barbados. It’s being handled on the highest degree.
“Drax is fabulously rich at present. The Drax household is the central household in the entire story of enslavement in Barbados. They’re the architects of slavery-based sugar manufacturing. They’ve a deep historic accountability. The method has solely simply begun and we belief that we will negotiate. If that doesn’t work, there are different strategies, together with litigation.
“Different households are concerned, although not as prominently because the Draxes. This reparations journey has begun. The matter is now for the cupboard of Barbados. It’s in movement. It’s being handled.”
Drax got here underneath the highlight in December 2020, after the Observer revealed he had not declared his inheritance of the 250-hectare (617 acres) Drax Corridor plantation. He did so solely after official paperwork surfaced which named him because the proprietor. He had inherited the plantation, valued at Bds$12.5m (£5.25m), from his father, Walter, in 2017.
Drax, 64, lives on the household’s mansion in Charborough Park, Dorset. He and his household are price not less than £150m and personal 23.5 sq. miles in Dorset, and an property and grouse moor in Yorkshire. The household additionally personal 125 Dorset properties personally or by household trusts and a £4.5m vacation villa on close by Sandbanks.
Drax’s ancestor, Sir James Drax, was one of many first Englishmen to colonise Barbados within the early Seventeenth century. He part-owned not less than two slave ships, the Samuel and the Hope.
The Drax household additionally owned a plantation in Jamaica, which they bought within the nineteenth century. When slavery was abolished throughout the British empire in 1833, the household obtained £4,293 12s 6d, a really giant sum in 1836, in compensation for releasing 189 enslaved individuals.
Prescod added: “The Drax household had slave ships. That they had brokers within the African continent and kidnapped black African individuals to work on their plantations right here in Barbados. I’ve little question that what would have motivated them was that they by no means perceived us to be equal to them, that we had been human beings. They thought-about us as chattels.”