Skip to Content

Colonial Cases

Benadir (Somalia)

The following was selected, edited and transcribed by Peter Bullock.

The Times, 5 March 1903

THE ITALIAN COLONY OF BENADIR.

ROME, MARCH 3.

In answer to various appellations in the Chamber of Deputies yesterday and to-day with regard to the colony of Benadir, Admiral Morin, the acting Foreign Minister, made a courageous and honest statement which shows that the Consulate is neither blind to the shortcomings of the subsidized company nor willing to shield them.  There were two questions, he said, before the Chamber.  First, had the Benadir Company satisfactorily fulfilled reasonable expectations as to the material progress of the colony, and, secondly, was the company to blame for the charges brought against it with regard to the maintenance of slavery.  To the first question he frankly answered that the work accomplished by the company did not correspond with what might reasonably have been expected; indeed the director of the company admitted as much, though he contended that an increase in capital would be necessary to fulfil the company's obligations. 

As to the second question, Admiral Morin replied that it was impossible to abolish a domestic institution like slavery at one stroke, but between a necessary toleration of an existing system and an actual connivance in the slave traffic there was, he said, a wide difference.  The latter could not and would not be permitted by the Italian authorities.  He did not believe himself that the charges of direct connivance brought against Italian officials were true.  An inquiry into the matter would however, be held by the Consular Court, and until the result of that inquiry was known he asked the Chamber to suspend its judgment.

Published by Centre for Comparative Law, History and Governance at Macquarie Law School