By Alecia Smith-Edwards
KINGSTOWN, St Vincent (JIS) -- Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller says a non-confrontational approach needs to be taken by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) on the issue of reparations.
She noted that the matter, which is important given the history and modern consequences of slavery in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, should be a process of reconciliation and dialogue, free from animosity.
Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller
Simpson-Miller was addressing a closed door meeting at the 25th inter-sessional meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), which officially opened on Monday in St Vincent and the Grenadines.
A key item on the table was reparations for native genocide and slavery. It is a topic of intense discussion in the Caribbean, which has led to the formation of individual national commissions throughout the region. These include Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname.
In addition, a CARICOM Reparations Commission was constituted to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the governments of all the colonial powers and the relevant institutions in those countries, to the nations and people of CARICOM for the crimes against humanity, including native genocide, the trans-Atlantic slave trade and a radicalized system of chattel slavery.
Simpson Miller’s address followed a presentation by historian, Professor Hilary Beckles, highlighting how slavery has affected Caribbean citizens and the need to pursue reparations. In this regard, he put forward a ten-point action plan for the heads to adopt.
Meanwhile, the heads also discussed advancing the regional agenda for sustainable development using information and communications technology (ICT); human resource development, with a focus on education; and the economic situation facing member states and the region.