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Caribbean leaders unveil 10-point slavery reparations plan

DEMANDS: Caricom want countries like Britain to make amends for the slave trade

LEADERS OF the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) have unveiled a list of 10 demands which they insist must be met by countries that were involved in the transatlantic slave trade as part of a reparations claim.

The plan, approved by the 15 leaders on March 11, includes a formal apology, repatriation, a request to help eradicate illiteracy, and the establishment of an African knowledge programme in the respective slave-owning countries including the UK, France, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Denmark.

Following a meeting on the Caribbean island of St Vincent, it was agreed that these demands would be pursued through the United Nations convention on the elimination of racial discrimination, spearheaded by the London law firm Leigh Day.

At the forum, chair Sir Hilary Beckles - pro-vice-chancellor of the University of the West Indies in Barbados, argued that “victims and descendants of these crimes against humanity have a legal right to reparatory justice, and that those who committed these crimes, and who have been enriched by the proceeds of these crimes, have a reparatory case to answer.”

Sir Hilary said: “I am very pleased that the conference has adopted the plan. Reparations for the slave era are an issue that has resonated increasingly in recent years.

“Reparations for slavery, and the century of racial apartheid that replaced it into the 1950s, resonate as a popular right today in Caribbean communities because of the persistent harm and suffering linked to the crimes against humanity under colonialism.”

One of the effects of slavery was illiteracy, the group stressed, pointing to Jamaica, which had a large slavery plantation, as an example. “Widespread illiteracy has subverted the development efforts of these nation states and represents a drag upon social and economic advancement,” the leaders underscored.

They said further: “Caribbean governments allocate more than 70 per cent of public expenditure to health and education in an effort to uproot the legacies of slavery and colonisation.

"European governments have a responsibility to participate in this effort.”

CARICOM has also asked for countries like Ghana to grant citizenship to children of people from the Caribbean who wanted to “return” to Africa.

Martyn Day, from the law firm Leigh Day who is advising the commission, described the list of requests as “a very comprehensive and fair set of demands on the Governments whose countries grew rich at the expense of those regions whose human wealth was stolen from them.”

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