03 December 2012

Barbados government establishes Reparations Task Force

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, – The Barbados government has established a 12-member Reparations Task Force that would be responsible for sustaining the local, regional and international momentum for reparations.

It will also conceptualise and articulate strategies, frameworks and projects to accept and manage financial and other resources.“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,” said Culture Minister Stephen Lashley.

Culture Minister Stephen Lashley said Barbados supports the argument that reparations should be made to the people of African descent in the Caribbean. (File photo)

The Task Force is chaired by Professor Pedro Welch and Lashley said it 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 Barbados supports the argument that reparations should be made to the people of African descent in the Caribbean and has been expressed repeatedly its position 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 said.

He acknowledged that while some Barbadians might argue against pursuing reparations because of certain pre-conceived ideas, some historians, legal thinkers and Pan-Africanists do not believe those views should “diminish the moral or legal force of arguments in favour of reparations”.

Lashley has already said that any resources acquired from reparations should be used for “transformative national development”.

At least three Caribbean countries are exploring the possibility of setting up Reparations Commissions.

The International Centre for Transitional Justice (ICTJ) says States have a legal duty to acknowledge and address widespread or systematic human rights violations, in cases where the state caused the violations or did not seriously try to prevent them.

“Reparations initiatives seek to address the harms caused by these violations. They can take the form of compensating for the losses suffered, which helps overcome some of the consequences of abuse. They can also be future oriented—providing rehabilitation and a better life to victims—and help to change the underlying causes of abuse,” ICTJ said. (CMC) 

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