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Jamaica: An important step forward on the road to reparations

Few people, especially those descended from enslaved Africans, would dispute the justification for reparatory justice for the cruel injustices inflicted on their African ancestors. However, there are people who believe that the efforts to get those countries, individuals and institutions that were enriched by their involvement in the slave trade — or who were not involved but benefited from the ill-gotten gains — to engage in reparatory justice are just a dream.

On the other hand, some people believe that there are causes so worthwhile that they should be fought for, even if they can never be won. The refusal of countries, companies and individuals enriched by the trade in enslaved Africans and from chattel slavery to even offer an apology is in itself shameful.

Indeed, scepticism about the probability of financial restitution is understandable, based on the history of the refusal of guilty parties to concede that there is a case to be answered.

Some are interested in reparations because they see an opportunity to extract some money. Others even salivate at the prospect of getting money individually.

The Caribbean Community (Caricom) has taken reparatory justice seriously and established the Caribbean Reparations Commissions which has been mandated to make a moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the governments of all the former colonial powers, and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and peoples of the region.

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