SAN JUAN – The Caribbean Community’s second round of internal discussions on seeking reparations from European countries for slavery got under way on Monday in Antigua and Barbuda.
The CARICOM Reparations Commission will debate the 10-point plan proposed in September 2013 at its first conference, held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The plan outlines a structure on reparations that includes asking former colonial powers for an official apology and debt forgiveness, among other demands.
“The CARICOM 10-point program for reparative justice is an excellent document, well-written and thoroughly thought out. It provides a framework for anticipated negotiations with the former European slave-trading countries,” Don Rojas, communications director of the Institute of the Black World 21st Century, told Efe.
Rojas, who will join the conference as an observer, said CARICOM may request reparations from Spain, England, France, Portugal, the Netherlands and Sweden for slavery and the genocide of indigenous people in the Caribbean.
CARICOM comprises Antigua and Barbuda; the Bahamas; Barbados; Belize; Dominica; Grenada; Guyana; Haiti; Jamaica; Montserrat; St. Lucia; St. Kitts and Nevis; St. Vincent and the Grenadines; Suriname; and Trinidad and Tobago.
In a report released early this year, the CARICOM Reparations Commission said it foresaw three possible responses from Europe: full acceptance of the 10-point plan; a partial settlement that includes a limited recognition of guilt; or a proposal for some other kind of reparations.
“I believe that CARICOM as a whole, rather than individual countries, will press claims against the European powers,” Rojas said.
CARICOM is reviewing whether to use as a legal basis for its demands the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination.
Although Guadeloupe and Martinique are not part of CARICOM, the regional organization may invite the two French overseas territories to join in the demand since they have already established reparations commissions.
The report points out that Sweden, Denmark and the Netherlands have already shown a willingness to listen to demands from their former colonies in the region.
CARICOM does not rule out resorting to the International Criminal Court in The Hague if its demands are ignored by the European powers.