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Extract from a government report on action against slavery in East Africa, 1895
(Catalogue ref: CAB 37/40/45)
The aim of Sir Bartle Frere's mission [in 1872-3] was to get new and stricter treaties with the rulers of Zanzibar and Muscat to stop the slave trade. The Sultan was invited to join Her Majesty's government in planning ways to stop this cruel and destructive trade. The Special Envoy [Frere] was told to make it clear to His Highness [the Sultan] that the British government was extremely disappointed by the lack of action taken against slave traders under the existing treaty, and for that reason to demand a new treaty.

The Sultan refused Frere's demand, so steps were taken to force him to agree. The matter was left in the hands of Sir John Kirk when the Envoy [Frere] left, the result being a Treaty signed in 1873 making it illegal to transport slaves by sea. Any slave found on board ships, whether taken for sale or working on board as a sailor or domestic, if held against his will, could be taken by British ships and freed through the British Prize Court at Zanzibar.

The effect of this Treaty was to practically stop the slave trade to Arabia, and to reduce the slave trade from the Zanzibar coast from 30,000 to a very much smaller number. However, there were still many slaves being taken to the island of Pemba and overland to the Somali Coast. ..

Towards the end of 1888 Germany proposed a joint blockade of the Sultan's coast. This was to stop the export of slaves and the import of munitions, as it was suggested that there had recently been increased slave trading activity. This was agreed to by Her Majesty's government, as it was thought that anything the German ships did should be done by British ships as well.

They got the co-operation of the Sultan and the blockade was announced in his name. It lasted from the 29th November 1888 to the 1st October 1889. During the blockade, the British and German ships stopped and searched ships belonging to the Sultan's subjects in his territorial waters.

On the 20th September 1889, His Highness [the Sultan] made their right of search a permanent right.

On the 13th September 1889 the Sultan gave in to strong pressure from Sir Gerald Portal (supported by the German consul) and agreed that after the 1st November 1889 all people who entered his realm should be free, and that all children born in his realm after the 1st January 1890 should be free, and these people would remain the subjects of His Highness [the Sultan].
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