This web site is dedicated to the millions of Africans who contributed the centuries of unpaid labour upon which the Western World advanced, which countries repaid the slaves and their descendants with hatred, discrimination, and contempt.
Many great movements throughout the course of Human History have experienced three stages – RIDICULE – DOUBT – ACCEPTANCE.
If, after reading “The 4th July, 2000 Letter,” you accept that a just case for reparations has been established, then please write in support of an apology to -
Right Honourable Prime Minister Anthony Blair
10 Downing Street
London SW1 2AA
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II
c/o Private Secretary
London SW1A 1AA
In the West of Africa, the Atlantic African Slave Trade, and in the South of Africa, Apartheid, were crimes against humanity. Both these crimes inflicted harm against the Black Peoples of Africa and of African descent, which had as a prime supporter, Britain, and other states which profited from these criminal enterprises. The sufferings and consequences continue to this day. Why shouldn't the countries which financed and profited from these crimes not address the debt and make account? As Germany has been held to account for the Nazi Regime for that which was wrong as perpetrated against the Jewish people - why shouldn't the Black Peoples of Africa and of African descent also receive fair and just reparations?
Mahatma Ghandi, with moral force, overcame colonialism in the British Empire. Colonialism is dead and buried. Correct? Wrong. It is alive and well in a few far flung corners of the world still under British colonial subjugation.
From the Pitcairn Islands in the Pacific, to the Turks and Caicos Islands in the Caribbean, colonial neglect and abuse thrive to this day. Neglect? Abuse? Where is the evidence?
The majority of the people of the Turks and Caicos Islands are descendants of African slaves. The status of the majority population, from the standard of education to the economic location of the people of African descendant relative to the least of minor British civil servants sent to govern the colony, is that of second to third class citizens. Three million pounds was donated by Britain in the early 1990s for the building of a new prison, in the capital, Grand Turk. Meanwhile, dilapidated schools, houses and the hospital in the capital testify to the shabby attitudes as order British priorities in the colony. After three hundred years of colonial exploitation there is a just cause for the shouldering of financial and administrative responsibilities by the colonial master as might serve meaningfully to lay solid foundations for the building of a well educated, qualified, adequately housed, and medically healthy population equipped to meet the economic challenges of the world, when the Union Jack no longer flies over the fair Isles. It is, and has been, the way of colonialism, to take all that it can, and leave precious little for post-colonial independence advancement. This pattern of abuse and neglect is illustrated perfectly by the administration of the judiciary.
The British Governor not only has power to appoint the Chief Justice, but under the constitution he disciplines and removes (if necessary) the Chief Justice. There is no independent body for impartial selection of Judges by a judicial services commission, as obtains in independent states which were formerly British colonies.
In mid-1994, two lawyers, Lloyd Rodney and Courtenay Barnett, lawfully petitioned then Governor, Martin Bourke, about instances of maladministration and corruption in the judicial system. The lawyers were both arrested, and Rodney was imprisoned, for the audacity of so stating, as was determined to have “scandalised” the court. The history behind the lawyers’s arrest says much about the nature of British colonial rule.
Chief Justice, Sir Frederick Smith, (from Barbados), while Chairman of the Board of Directors and a shareholder of Cable and Wireless ( the British telecommunications multinational) sat to hear a public interest case for fairer telecommunications charges. Smith failed to reveal to Attorneys Barnett and Rodney, his interest in the case and position in the company. Barnett had argued the case as had been filed by Rodney against the British company which provided monopoly services in the Islands. On appeal, the Court of Appeal unanimously over-ruled Smith’s decision, and the vendetta against Rodney and Barnett commenced.
Smith, was obliged to resign his post as Chief Justice, arising directly from the Cable and Wireless case. However, Smith’s departure was followed by his recommended friend's appointment, Lindsey Worrel ( also from Barbados). Worrel himself, acknowledged in open court that Smith had directed him to the job of Chief Justice. The lawyers’s problems with the judiciary continued, and Attorney Rodney finally petitioned with cause for removal of Worrel, from the office of Chief Justice in the one judge jurisdiction of the Turks and Caicos Islands.
The strongest causes for petitioning against maladministration were afforded under the regime of Douglas, the next appointed Chief Justice, who was brother-in -law to Smith. Rodney’s and Barnett’s call for justice, and an end to corruption, by this time was accompanied by strong support from the elected Chief Minister with support from other elected representatives. A case against Douglas was set out in two petitions lawfully lodged by Barnett and Rodney with then Governor, Martin Bourke, pursuant to a specific constitutional provision as accorded with the Bill of Rights 1688. The Bill of Rights 1688, is still law in the colony, and it prohibits charging a criminal offence for petitioning for redress of a grievance. That right is well recognised in English history, from the times of Kings Charles and James 11. The right has never been removed from the statute books, and is respected in all democratic societies.
On the 4th November, 1994, Douglas issued two warrants for the arrest of Rodney and Barnett for the criminal offence of having scandalised the court and commitment of public mischief. The latter offence, interestingly enough, was not an offence on the books, and the lawyers’s petition had already complained about Douglas’s incompetence as a Chief Justice. Douglas, in actuality, had signed the warrants himself, as had been sworn to before himself, and witnessed by himself solely, in this matter of petitioning concerning himself. It was this process, without leave as lawfully required for issue of contempt proceedings, that served as the “legal” foundation for arrest of both lawyers and imprisonment of Rodney.
Judge, Elliot Belgrave, was specially flown in overnight in December, 1994, from Barbados, to grant leave ex post facto for continuation with the 4th November, 1994, warrant which Douglas later dismissed in January,1995. Notwithstanding, Rodney and Barnett were tried in March, 1995, pursuant to the dismissed 4th November, 1994 warrants, and were convicted for criminal contempt of court, for reason of scandalising the court. Specially appointed British Judge, David Hallchurch, pronounced sentence to two and three months imprisonment respectively, suspended for two years.
Following Chief Justice Douglas's departure, the same Judge who had presided in the criminal contempt of court trials, Hallchurch, was appointed Chief Justice of the Turks and Caicos Islands. He finally ensured Rodney's imprisonment pursuant to the 4th November, 1994 warrant. Barnett acted as counsel for Rodney. International attention of the matter led to Amnesty International and other reputable human rights organisations demanding that the British Government not contravene local and international law, and unconditionally release Rodney. Having been placed in prison on the 29th August, 1997, Rodney was removed to the Grand Turk public hospital under twenty – four hour prison guard.
On the 12th September, 1997, Rodney was chained to his hospital bed. Amnesty International demanded that no more restraints be placed upon Rodney, and the head of the Americas Region of Amnesty directed the British Government's attention to the international provisions which Her Majesty’s Government had agreed to which prohibited such conduct. Notwithstanding, again, at about midnight on the 15th September, 1997, Rodney was awakened in his hospital bed and he was shackled to the bed and left in full public view in the hospital ward. The incidents made the front page of the national newspaper, “ The Turks and Caicos News”, with Rodney photographed holding the chains. Caribbean newspapers also reported the incidents.
After suing the Attorney General and the Superintendent of Prisons for "assault", the shackling, and "false imprisonment", the Attorney General pleaded a specific lie in defence and made categorical denial of the shackling. A jury on the 26th June, 2000, accepted Rodney’s evidence and awarded Rodney damages and his lawyers, Barnett and Victor Cuffy, legal costs for trial. The lawyers continue fighting to seek justice from a substantially flawed justice system.
Ghandi had succeeded in overcoming colonial oppression, but colonial attitudes have long outlived Ghandi’s noble struggle. Lloyd Rodney is probably the last person of African descent in recorded history to have been shackled in a British colony. In the Crown Colony of the Turks and Caicos Islands the justice that is dispensed is deemed fit for the subjects ruled as children of a lesser God.
Note: The matters here reported appear in the April, 1998 edition of The Human Rights Tribune, a publication within the United Nations human rights system.