Barbados has made another step towards the goal of obtaining regional reparations.
Members of the National Reparations Task Force recently presented Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley with an official report on arguments in support of reparations in his Ministry’s Conference Room at Sky Mall.
After receiving the document, Lashley said he was pleased with the work of the task force, established in 2012. He noted that the project was not only conceptualized to secure monetary payment, but also to inform Barbadians on the meaning of reparations.
Lashley also said the establishment of the task force must be viewed within the context of the diplomatic efforts made by the CARICOM countries at the United Nations World Conference Against Racism in 2001, and the joint CARICOM/African Union Conference on Reparations that was held in Barbados in August 2007.
Chairman of the National Reparations Task Force Professor Emeritus Pedro Welch reiterated that reparations were not only a monetary issue, but in fact an element of self-repair.
“We need to find ways to let people know it is alright to be black; it is alright to be African, it is nothing to be ashamed of . . . some of our behaviours we can’t explain other than that this is a reaction to what was done to our people . . . . There is a psychological impact which is transferred in the culture of the people,” he said.
Professor Welch also said there was need for institutions and countries that have been guilty of perpetuating the enslavement of Africans and their descendants to acknowledge the harm done.
“We can continue with the process of self-repair but on the question of morality it is important for them to acknowledge that it was wrong,” he stressed.
The report, which makes a moral argument in support of the need for reparations, also contains comments from various local groups, such as the Rastafarian community, the Church, the Islamic community, as well as transcripts from town hall meetings.
“There are 27 recommendations included in the document. One of them has to do with the House of Assembly of today revisiting the matter and proclaiming, for the record, its view that slavery and enslavement was a crime against humanity and they should note that the actions of the House of Assembly at that period perpetuated inferiority for our people,” Professor Welch explained.
The document also includes contributions from various members of the task force.
“We begin by tracing the development of enslavement, looking at emancipation or abolition and then looking at the post abolition period [in order to] establish the foundation for making a claim. Once we have done that, we also look at the whole question of the legal aspects of making such a claim,” the chairman said.
Deputy Chairperson of the Reparations Task Force Cecelia Babb and Head of the Commission for Pan African Affairs Dr Deryck Murray also attended the presentation ceremony.