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Reparatory Justice, Not a Backward Call for Handouts

For Release Upon Receipt - Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sir Hilary Beckles, Chairman of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Reparations Committee presented a model for reparations at Oxford University, England on January 26, 2016.

He met at the House of Commons with political leaders and civil society organisations to discuss CARICOM’s call for reparatory justice for African enslavement and native genocide. This meeting was a follow-up to Sir Hilary’s visit to England in July 2014 where he addressed the British Parliament.

Professor Beckles stated that reparatory justice is not a backward call for handouts as many believe. He noted, “On the contrary, it is a renewed call for development cooperation between Britain and the Caribbean. It is about Britain making a long overdue contribution to the economic development of the Caribbean through investments in areas such as education, health care, agriculture reform, technology and science to transfer through the universities and colleges. It concerns debt abandonments since the governments of the Caribbean have used up their scare resources desperately trying to clean up the colonial mess Britain left behind, such as rampant illiteracy, poor health care, horrible housing, and backward attitudes to development. Britain abandoned its financial obligation, and the Caribbean citizens and governments had done very well with self responsibility, but the time has come for Britain to honour its legal and moral obligation to the Caribbean. Every finance minister in the Caribbean should stand with the reparations movement and jointly call upon Britain to facilitate economic development and recovery since as PM Cameron said, the Caribbean has been neglected for 30 years after 300 years of wealth extraction."

During the lecture which was hosted by Professor Louise Richardson - Oxford’s new Vice-Chancellor - Sir Hilary suggested that Britain should establish a facility like the Jewish Reparation Fund which drives Israeli development works projects. He said a CARICOM Reparation Fund could receive reparations for development purposes and fund projects for the people of the Caribbean.

Professor Beckles’ “10-point action plan” called for an apology, repatriation, an indigenous people’s programme, cultural institutions, programmes designed to improve public health, literacy and African knowledge; psychological rehabilitation and technology upgrading programmes and debt cancellation.

He said that Britain had a responsibility to the citizens of the Caribbean to right the wrongs of slavery by paying reparation. “It is a vital step in the racial and political healing process”, he declared.

Noting that “Blacks are the only people who have received no reparations for crimes of slavery”, Sir Hilary said urgent action was required to repair damage facing the region such as the debt crisis, poor health and literacy ratios, institutional poverty, food insecurity, unemployment and more.

In its invitation letter to Sir Hilary, the university said, “There is a need for a more serious discussion about reparations and curriculum diversity at Oxford”. Last year, Oxford held a joint summit where University staff and members of the student union and the student-led Campaign for Racial Awareness and Equality discussed issues raised by students and agreed on a set of concrete steps, including substantial work to review its curriculum in several subject areas with an eye to ethnicity and diversity, working in consultation with minority ethnic students. Meanwhile, a group of scholar/activists in Britain is mobilizing their peers to sign a statement calling on PM Cameron to launch a Commission of Inquiry into the Histories and Legacies of British Colonialism and the British Empire.

For more information pertaining to this news release, please contact Marcia Erskine at: (876) 960-3170 or email merskine@cwjamaica.com.

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Related links:

Photos: https://www.dropbox.com/sc/0hivv08x4k4j4yj/AAAbJhMoru3vmANLY6RTdpg2a?oref=e

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RDCpVQxcMR4&feature=youtu.be

At its 34th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government in July 2013, CARICOM Heads of Government agreed on the establishment of a CARICOM Commission on Reparation and Social Justice, as well as National Committees on Reparations, to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the former colonial European countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community, for native genocide, the transatlantic slave trade and a racialized system of chattel slavery. Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, serves as Chairman of the CARICOM Commission.

For Sir Hilary’s Biography, please visit: http://www.uwi.edu/vcinstallation/about.asp

About The UWI

Since its inception in 1948, The University of the West Indies (UWI) has evolved from a fledgling college in Jamaica with 33 students to a fully-fledged, regional University with over 50,000 students. Today, The UWI is the largest, most longstanding higher education provider in the Commonwealth Caribbean, with three physical campuses in Barbados, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and an Open Campus. The UWI serves 17 English-speaking countries and territories in the Caribbean: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, The British Virgin Islands, The Cayman Islands, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Turks and Caicos. The UWI’s faculty and students come from more than 40 countries and The University has collaborative links with 160 universities globally; it offers undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology and Social Sciences. The UWI’s seven priority focal areas are linked closely to the priorities identified by CARICOM and take into account such over-arching areas of concern to the region as environmental issues, health and wellness, gender equity and the critical importance of innovation. www.uwi.edu










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