The CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. (File photo)

Caricom considers courtroom fight for reparations

The CARICOM Secretariat in Georgetown, Guyana. (File photo)

Caricom is now eyeing an evidence-based courtroom approach to the fight for reparations, joining with countries in Africa in this new bid. Caricom officials said in an online update this week that they are working with African nations in the search for evidence against Britain, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Portugal.

They are also reviewing a case for adding Sweden, Switzerland, Norway and Russia, indicating that they also “played a significant part and benefitted economically and in other forms from the slave trade to the Americas.”

Caricom is one bloc among a group of more than 60 nations that have already joined the advocacy group for reparations. Formal talks are being planned.

Caricom is on the hunt for evidence for placement before arbitrators. Officials said that while they are still demanding formal talks with Europe, they are aligning with African nations in seeking evidence that could be presented to a court.

The group is being aided by Leigh Day, the British law firm which has participated in cases of groups seeking compensation for severe mistreatment, including a Mau Mau group of Kenyans who were tortured by the British in the colonial era back (1940s and 50s) and for whom the company secured compensation.

In the past, representatives of Leigh Day have commented that it is crucial to remember that Britain built its Industrial Revolution on the back of the slave trade in the Caribbean countries that are now seeking compensation. They added that there’s an obligation for the British Government to try to resolve the suffering that came as a result of slavery.

Caricom officials said in their statement this week, “ the CRC (Caricom Reparations Commission) reiterates its demands to the European states that colonised the region, to immediately begin reparations negotiations with Caricom.

“The UN Human Rights Council’s recent landmark report calls on member states of the United Nations to pay reparations to the countries and communities that have been victimised by centuries of systemic racism and by the ongoing legacies and harms of African enslavement.”

It added, “Reparations for African enslavement, Indigenous People’s genocide, deceptive indentureship and other colonial atrocities, continue to resonate across the region. The CRC’s Ten-Point Plan remains a crucial blueprint for sustainable social and economic development throughout the Caribbean.”