• Sweden edition
 
Sweden 'open' to slave trade reparations
The Caribbean island of St. Barthélemy was once a Swedish colony.

Sweden 'open' to slave trade reparations

Published: 13 Dec 2013 17:36 GMT+01:00
Updated: 13 Dec 2013 17:36 GMT+01:00

Sweden's top diplomat in the Caribbean said an effort by a group of countries in the region to seek reparations from former colonial powers for the effects of the Atlantic slave trade should be "taken seriously".

Earlier this week, a commission by regional governments to look into seeking reparations for "native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery", identified Sweden as one of eight European countries that should "address the living legacies of these crimes."

Other countries named by the Caribbean Community Reparations Commission, which was launched earlier this year, included Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, and Denmark.

While the Swedish foreign ministry has been following the commission's work, diplomats were unaware that Sweden would be named until this week's announcement in Jamaica on Tuesday.

"We didn't know Sweden was going to be included when the commission started," Claes Hammar, Sweden's ambassador to the Caribbean told The Local.

While Sweden may not immediately spring to mind as a Caribbean colonial power, the Swedes acquired the island of St. Barthélemy from Britain in 1784.

Sweden established Gustavia, the capital, as a free port, helping boost trade with the 22-square kilometre island. But slavery was also practiced on the island until 1847.

Sweden's colonial presence ended in 1877, however, when the island was handed over to France.

While Hammar characterized Sweden's colonial activities as "marginal" compared to other more prominent European powers active in the Caribbean, he didn't dispute that Caricom, as the reparations commission is known, was justified in looking at Sweden along with other colonial powers.

"I'm not totally surprised. Sweden did after all have a colony in the Caribbean so it's not wrong for us to be a part of the discussion," he said.

"This is a serious matter and we have to have respect for the process."

He emphasized that Sweden had yet to take an official position on whether or not it would offer slave trade reparations to Caribbean countries and likely wouldn't take any concrete steps before Caricom issued its findings, expected in February.

However, Hammar said Sweden is "certainly open to looking at possibilities" for compensating countries in the region.

"The question is what sort of compensation could be offered. There are no survivors from that period, only their descendants," he said, mentioning aid with education or other social welfare programmes were possible options.

Sweden will also likely confer with other countries under review by Caricom. The matter will also be reviewed by the foreign ministry's human rights division, Hammar explained.

Caricom has solicited the services of a British law firm that helped gain compensation for Kenyans who claimed they were tortured by the British colonial government.

The commission has identified six areas related to conditions in the Caribbean, including inadequate public health and education, as well as "scientific backwardness" that they believe are a "direct result" of colonial-era crimes and should be the focus of "reparatory diplomacy and action".

David Landes (david.landes@thelocal.se)

Don't miss...X
Left Right

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Ikea to introduce 'green' vegetarian meatballs

Swedish furniture giant Ikea is planning to put vegetarian meatballs on the menu in an attempt to cut down on its carbon footprint, the company has announced. READ () »

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

Students to keep paying off debt beyond 67

The Swedish government has proposed scrapping the 25-year span for repaying student loans, by suggesting those who attend higher education should keep paying the money back well into retirement. READ () »

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage
The crayfish cage in the picture is not the one mentioned in the story. Photo: Christine Olsson/TT

Drowned puppies found in crayfish cage

Police in eastern Sweden have launched a preliminary investigation of animal cruelty after two puppies were found drowned in a crayfish cage. READ () »

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat
Rickard Rundgren Björk of the coastguard services speaks to the media after the rescue operation on April 19th 2014. Photo: Maja Suslin /TT

Three rescued after cruise ship sinks boat

Three Saturday morning sailors had a lucky escape after their small boat collided and sank after it crashed into a cruise ship whilst sailing in the Stockholm archipelago. READ () »

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK
Sofie Marie Jansson. Photo: Metropolitan Police

Missing Swede found alive and well in UK

British police have found the missing Swedish girl Sofie Jansson in London, exactly a week after she was last seen, with authorities saying she is doing well. READ () »

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Social Democrats make tax pledge to elderly

Sweden's opposition party has stepped up its efforts to secure the pensioner vote by pledging to lower taxes for the elderly and make higher earners pay more. READ () »

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend
Showan Shattak pictured in Malmö before his attack. Photo: Facebook

Malmö Nazi attack victim on the mend

The 25-year-old man, whose stabbing by neo-Nazis sparked mass demonstrations across Sweden, has made a strong recovery in hospital and took to social media to thank supporters for campaigning against fascism. READ () »

Police seeking missing Swede in London

British police have issued a plea for tips in the search to find Swedish national Sofie Marie Jansson who hasn't been seen for almost a week. READ () »

University applications rocket to record high

University applications rocket to record high

Swedish universities continue to draw vast amounts of applicants with the number of prospective students seeking a third level education increasing for the seventh year in a row. READ () »

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot
Swedish artist Lars Vilks pictured in New York in 2012. Photo: Linus Sundahl-Djerf/TT

Man jailed in US over Lars Vilks murder plot

American authorities have sentenced a 20-year-old accomplice of 'Jihad Jane' to five years in prison for an attempted terror plot to kill Swedish artist Lars Vilks, after getting involved with the murder plans when he was a teenager. READ () »

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
TT
Society
Kids in Victorian garb mark Swedish Easter
Shutterstock
National
Swedish MP ordered chemtrail probe
Society
Swedish supermarket Ica pulls contested Easter commercial off air
Kungahuset
Society
Swedish royals set baptism date for princess
finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 16
Politics
Who's the prime minister's heir?
Alfie Atkins
Society
Are children's books the key to families integrating in Sweden?
National
'Sweden Dem protests cater to party's martyr image'
National
'Swedish research grants were fantastic, but now it's like Australia'
Society
Only in Sweden: The ten problems you'd never encounter elsewhere
National
Swedes stopped to take my picture, but didn't look me in the eyes
Business & Money
A swipe of the hand replaced cash and cards in Lund
Advertisement:
YouTube
Features
Video: Oliver Gee finds out how to embrace The Swedish Hug
TT
National
Abba duo hints at reunion
Private
National
Flash mobs hug it out across Sweden
Finest.se
Gallery
People-watching April 11-13
TT
Politics
Swedes to give six-hour workday a go
TT
Society
Aussie choir member wows Abba in Sweden
YouTube
Society
Stockholm magic a surprise YouTube hit
Fastighetsbyrån
Society
Gallery: The Local's Property of the Week
Private
Society
Swedes find 200-year-old gravestone in living room
Stockholm School of Economics
Sponsored Article
Why a bachelor's degree is no longer enough
Deepti Vashisht
Features
Deepti Vashisht dissects the magic of Sweden's personal ID number
Shutterstock
Society
Ten signs you've been in Sweden too long
Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Blog Update: The Diplomatic Dispatch

28 October 15:16

The Green Growth Group Summit »

"Today on the 28 October in Brussels, a large group of key EU Ministers and business people, including UK Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Edward Davey, and Swedish Environment Minister Lena Ek, will meet to discuss green growth. They all have a stake in resolving a challenge which, although it is crucial..." READ »

738
jobs available
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions
Swedish Down Town Consulting & Productions is an innovative business company which provides valuable assistance with the Swedish Authorities, Swedish language practice and general communications. Call 073-100 47 81 or visit:
www.swedishdowntown.com