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Caricom leaders discuss slavery reparation

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

BUCCAMENT—Caricom’s proposals to seek reparation from European states for hardship suffered by people during the slave trade range from seeking a formal apology and obtaining compensation to making claims via lawyers or diplomatic channels. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar outlined some of the proposals at a media briefing on Monday evening after a first round of talks among leaders at the 25th Caricom intersessional meeting at the Buccament Bay Hotel.


The reparation issue, which recently arose on the regional agenda, was among the first round of deliberations. Persad-Bissessar said talks were successful, with follow-up on several initiatives of last year’s T&T summit and earlier plans. The PM said each state had its own reparation team. T&T’s is headed by National Joint Action Committee’s (NJAC’s) Aiyegoro Ome.


She said a report was presented by a special commission on the issue. This noted that 30,000 people have so far been repatriated, though this has spawned issues. She said leaders would have to speak to some African states on the situation. The PM said it was also found that people of African descent in the region were most affected by diseases such as diabetes and hypertension and were less resilient than those with similar DNA in Africa, owing to the trauma their forefathers suffered during the slave trade.


She said  the leaders also met with Serge Letchimy, president of the Regional Council of Martinique, which want associate membership in Caricom. Persad-Bissessar said there appeared to be consensus to consider it, since the Treaty of Chaguaramas was silent on such issues. Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Dookeran said Turkey, New Zealand and Spain attended the meeting to hold bilateral talks with the region. Turkey wants to establish a diplomatic post in T&T.


Talks also included on information and communication technology (ICT) and human-resource development in shaping Caribbean education and in establishing single ICT space in Caricom and cybersecurity. The PM said T&T was moving to pass tighter cybersecurity laws in Parliament soon.


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