From left are Minister of Foreign Affairs for Barbados Maxine McClean; Barbados Prime Minister Freundel Stuart; Bahamas Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell and Bahamas Prime Minister Perry Christie
By Royston Jones Jr.
Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent -- The Bahamas has endorsed an action plan to seek reparations for slavery from former colonizers, including Britain, France and the Netherlands, according to government officials.
CARICOM heads of government have agreed to establish a ten-point plan that would seek a formal apology, some form of debt cancelation and reparations from those nations.
The decision came during meetings over the last two days among the member states in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
“We announced in the CARICOM meeting that our commission on reparations has been appointed and is headed by Alfred Sears and Philip Smith, former members of Parliament,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Fred Mitchell said.
“They are joined by a number of other citizens from across the community.
“The full list will be announced upon our return. This issue is one which the local commission is tasked with discussing with the public and in particular, public education.
“We expect that the local commission will advise us on the necessity and or efficacy of any legal, political, legislative or administrative decisions that need to be taken.”
Sears, who was contacted for comment, said he had not yet discussed the developments at CARICOM with government officials.
As it relates to the commission, Sears said it has not been fully formed.
He said potential members have been identified, but that list of names must be reviewed and approved by Cabinet.
When asked to reveal whose names have been put forward, Sears said, “Some of them are young people to ensure that this work will be carried into the future.”
During a CARICOM meeting in July, member states agreed to establish a CARICOM Reparations Commission.
In the months following that meeting, Mitchell said no decision had been made to pursue reparations, but Cabinet and the Bahamian people would ultimately make the decision.
However, Mitchell said at the time he was shocked at the “incipient racism and self hatred, which seems to be part of the DNA of some people of African descent.
“I am advised the British government has already expressed regret for slavery. That is a form of reparations already given.”
The slave trade to the Caribbean, which lasted 400 years, ended in the 19th century.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian