Justice Minister: Land reform could compensate for French slavery era

May 13, 2013 at 11:32 AM

PARIS, May 13 (UPI) -- French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira has said the government should redistribute land to the descendants of ex-slaves in its Caribbean territories.

Her comments were published in a weekly magazine two days after President Francois Hollande emphatically ruled out reparations for France's role in the slave trade during the country's colonial era, France 24 reported Monday.

The descendants of slaves "were left without access to land" after a "land grab" in the French territories overseas, Taubira said. To rectify that situation "without sparking a civil war," she said France should consider land reform.

"There are steps that should be taken, without expropriations, and clearly explaining the reason behind the state's push to purchase land," Taubira added.

She authored a law that recognized slavery as a crime against humanity in 2001 while representing her native French Guiana as a member of parliament.

Hollande's statement had been protested by the Representative Council of Black Associations. On Sunday, the group's president, Luis-Georges Tin, said he was "overjoyed" by Taubira's comments.

Tin said France owned many unused tracts of land in its overseas territories and that Taubira's land reform could be accomplished without taking land from anyone.

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