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Europe

French MP pushes Europe to recognise slavery as crime against humanity

media Abolition of Slavery in French Colonies, 1848. © Auguste François Biard

A French member of the European Parliament has called on Europe to recognise slavery as a crime against humanity, and to hold a memorial day for victims of European colonisation.

Jean-Jacob Bicep, a French Green Party MP in the European Parliament [MEP], has submitted a written request to have slavery recognised as a crime against humanity at a European level.

It comes ahead of next Monday’s launch of the first European-wide week of awareness on questions about colonisation, slavery and reparations.

“Other MEPs have already tried to have slavery recognised as a crime against humanity, without success. This time it's different, because I've widened the scope to include colonisation. I'm also not alone, which gives me hope that our combined efforts will lead to official recognition in the European Parliement," Bicep told RFI.

He is urging other MEPs to sign on.

"For the first time in history, the European Parliament would officially recognise slavery, but also American Indian genocide, forced labour in Africa, crimes in Asia....In other words, the entire story of colonisation. And next week's exchanges between MEPs and civil society groups will help raise awareness among our colleagues about European colonisation, which is a source of part of Europe's wealth."

Other MEPs behind the motion include former French presidential candidate for the Green Party, Eva Joly, and other left-wing MEPs from Portugal and Denmark.

France is the only country in the world that has officially recognised slavery as a crime against humanity.

The decision, made on May 10, 2001, will be commemorated in a series in France today.

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