Caribbean Countries Call on Former European Slave Nations to Pay Back their Debts
- By UWI Centre for Reparation Research
- In News
CARIBBEAN countries have demanded that the former European slaving nations pay back their debts, vowing to eliminate colonial remnants that still exist in the region.
The call came during celebrations for the United Nations International Day for the Abolition of Slavery, which commemorates December 2 1949, when the Convention for the Suppression of the Traffic in Persons and the Exploitation of the Prosecution of Others was approved.
Caribbean nations have reinforced demands in recent months for eradicating the consequences of the historical crimes against humanity committed by European countries against the peoples of the area.
Since 1993, the Caribbean Community (Caricom) Reparations Commission has been seeking compensation for the genocide of indigenous peoples and the enslavement of Africans committed by Britain, France, Spain, Denmark, Germany, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the Netherlands.
The commission has warned that the Caribbean people are still affected by the legacy of slavery and that it is necessary to restore democratic rights and fair compensation for the damages caused.
Caricom Commission head Hilary Beckles said: “Europe has a debt to our people and now is the time to pay.”
The UN has agreed with the commission warnings, saying that slavery “is not merely a historical relic.”
It said in a statement: “Slavery has evolved and manifested itself in different ways throughout history.
“Today some traditional forms of slavery still persist in their earlier forms, while others have been transformed into new ones.
“The UN human rights bodies have documented the persistence of old forms of slavery that are embedded in traditional beliefs and customs.
“These are the result of long-standing discrimination against the most vulnerable groups in societies, such as those regarded as being of low caste, tribal minorities and indigenous peoples.”
The Caribbean region has seen a rise in calls for emancipation from their colonial rulers.
Last month, Barbados decided it will become a republic, renouncing its Commonwealth status by November 2021, the 55th anniversary of its independence.
Neighbouring nations also marked December 2.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro tweeted: “Venezuela exalts the rebellious roots of our ancestors, who fought with dignity for freedom.
“It is time to unite to combat the new forms of oppression and domination that they are trying to impose on the people.”