By Sharon Austin Gill-Moore
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- The government of Barbados has set up a 12-member reparations task force, which will be chaired by Professor Pedro Welch, and have Monsignor Vincent Blackett, as the deputy.
This disclosure has come from Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, who said the task force would be responsible for sustaining the local, regional and international momentum for reparations, as well as conceptualising and articulating strategies, frameworks and projects to accept and manage financial and other resources returned through this means.
"They will also further the research and publication of works that make the case for reparations and self-reparations at individual, community, national, regional and international levels, among other things," Lashley explained.
According to him, the task force would provide advice and support to government, through the Commission for Pan-African Affairs, on sourcing financial, in-kind and technical assistance resources to implement a package of reparative initiatives. These projects will include government collaborating with the University of the West Indies to mount a regional reparations conference, which would lead to the formation of a Caribbean commission; and the establishment of a Multi-ethnic Research Centre, a National Museum on Slavery and a Centre for Reparations Research.
Lashley said this country’s view that reparations should be made to the people of African descent in the Caribbean has been expressed repeatedly over the years at various high-level international meetings.
"It is now acknowledged internationally that Barbados' historic and pivotal leadership role during the preparatory meetings and at the 2001 World Conference Against Racism ensured that reparations remained on the global agenda in the face of fierce resistance from some countries.
"Against this resistance, forceful Caribbean, African and African-Diasporic negotiations got the World Conference Against Racism to agree that the transatlantic trade in Africans was a crime against humanity and called for reparations in the Durban Declaration," he stated.
Conceding that some Barbadians might argue against pursuing reparations because of certain pre-conceived ideas, he stressed, however, that some historians, legal thinkers and Pan-Africanists did not believe those views should "diminish the moral or legal force of arguments in favour of reparations".
Lashley is on record as saying that any resources acquired from reparations should be used for "transformative national development".
At least three Caribbean governments are said to be currently exploring the possibility of setting up reparations commissions.