Concern about CARICOM’s approach to reparations

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Tuesday July 16, 2013 – The Pan–Afrikan Reparations Coalition of Europe (PARCOE) has voiced concern about the approach being taken by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) in establishing National Reparations Committees.

At the recently concluded CARICOM Heads of Government Conference in Trinidad, the leaders agreed to set up national reparations committees in each of the 15 member states as a first step toward tackling an issue that was previously ignored.

While lauding the decision, PARCOE says “that the top down approach being taken to this issue will end up not achieving the reparations aspirations of the masses of Afrikan descendant and indigenous citizens in the Caribbean.”  

“In our humble opinion this may happen unless concerted efforts are made to enable the facilitation of constructive engagement, dialogue, debate and deliberation within and between civil society, non-governmental organisations and social movements across the respective Caribbean nations in the region to allow for the negotiation of the best reparations common interest,” PARCOE said in an open letter to CARICOM Heads of Government.

PARCOE also voiced concern about the decision to enlist the services of law firm Leigh Day & Co to provide a legal brief in order to present a case for reparations for Caribbean slavery and Native genocide to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

PARCOE believes that the decision was based on the law firm’s role in securing compensation for thousands of Kenyans from the nationalist Mau Mau movement, who were tortured in the anti-colonial uprising in the 1950s.

According to PARCOE, the agreement reached with the British Government represented a “paltry sum and is not commensurate with the torture and suffering of the Kenyans. “It is therefore our firm contention that what is mistakenly being heralded as a ‘historic victory’ for the Mau Mau can be seen as a well orchestrated imperialist swindle, apparently hatched by Leigh Day & Co with their usual Afriphobic racist arrogance, in collaboration with British state authorities behind the back of the Mau Mau community of reparations interest in and beyond Kenya, including PARCOE.”

“We fear, what we in PARCOE consider to be, a dubious move on the part of Leigh Day & Co, whereby without any visible and transparent engagement with the Caribbean Community of reparations interest in the UK, (where they are based), they appear to have wormed their way into the confidence of Caribbean state authorities in order to once again misrepresent Afrikans and people of Afrikan descent on an issue of vital importance to our very survival.”

PARCOE is also concerned that CARICOM Heads were unable to secure the expertise of  “outstanding legal brains that have come out of the Caribbean and stood firmly, proudly and successfully in the front ranks of our struggle against chattel, colonial and neo-colonial forms of enslavement.”

“In the case of reparations to the descendants of the enslaved in the Caribbean, it is important to ensure that law firms retained have the proven track record of being able to effectively work with and respect the political and legal self-determination of Afrikan and Afrikan Caribbean communities by adopting litigation strategies that these communities of reparations interest themselves have fashioned,” PARCOE added.

The organisation urged Caribbean leaders to engage in the necessary consultations with all Afrikans and people of Afrikan descent in the various countries of the Caribbean as well as with Afrikans and people of Afrikan descent living in the British Isles and other countries in Europe .

“The simple point being that what Britain owes the descendants of the enslaved in the Caribbean is not just a matter for those currently living in the Caribbean to determine.”(CMC) Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)