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Countries demand slavery reparations

Caricom nations seek formal apology and debt cancellation

Caribbean leaders have unanimously adopted a plan seeking reparations from Europe for the continuing legacy of the slave trade - a crime with "no parallel in terms of man's inhumanity to man."

British-based law firm Leigh Day announced that prime ministers had backed a 10-point plan to seek a formal apology and debt cancellation from former colonial masters such as Britain, France and the Netherlands.

The firm said the Caricom nations wanted money for the lingering "psychological trauma" from the days of plantation slavery and to boost the region's technological abilities after centuries of stunted development in the interests of European capitalism.

The plan also demands aid to strengthen public health, culture and literacy - all of which continue to suffer from the legacy of colonial imperialism. It was unanimously agreed in a closed meeting on Monday night.

Caricom reparations commission chairman Sir Hilary Beckles said the issue of reparations from the slave era "has resonated increasingly in recent years."

He added: "Reparations for slavery, and the century of racial apartheid that replaced it into the 1950s, resonate as a popular right today in Caribbean communities because of the persistent harm and suffering linked to the crimes against humanity under colonialism."

Leigh Day's Martyn Day called the demands "comprehensive and fair," given that European powers "grew rich at the expense of those regions, whose human wealth was stolen from them."

He said an upcoming meeting between the 15-strong Caricom nations and European powers in London would help Caribbean governments "to quickly gauge whether or not their concerns are being taken seriously."

In 2007 British warmongering leader Tony Blair expressed "regret" for the suffering caused by the slave trade but refused to apologise and therefore admit crimes had been committed.

Such positions represent "a reprehensible response to the call for apology in that they suggest that victims and their descendants are not worthy of an apology," said the Caricom statement.

Leigh Day waged a successful fight to win £20 million for Kenyans tortured by British forces during the Mau Mau's national liberation struggle.

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