Balancing the Scales of Reparatory Justice

By Stephen Kangal
August 21, 2014

Stephen KangalI regard myself as an objective and detached observer of the legitimate current claim being prosecuted across the Caribbean for European nations that participated in the infamous Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to pay reparations to the descendants of those who suffered this inhumanity in the hands of the slave-masters/traders and tribal chiefs in Africa who mobilized them and sold them to the slave-traders.

I have assessed the role that Britain played in the education/socialisation of Sir Hilary Beckles based on his own admissions in the Committee Room of the House of Commons Statement. Does Sir Hilary owe a debt of gratitude, appreciation and indeed reparation to the British for the facilities that he enjoyed in Britain from childhood to knighthood? Must the facilities and social, economic and educational mobility made available to and career-changing for the descendants of the slaves under the aegis of the British Government be factored into the reparation determination process?

He is Chairman of the Caricom Commission brainstorming the idea leading to the formalization and concretization of the final presentation for the argumentation on behalf of the plaintiffs geared to achieve expeditious delivery of reparatory justice. This reparation should be adequate, effective and timely having regard to the enormity of the crime against humanity from Africa and the need to bring closure to this sordid chapter in world social and economic history.

I am a bit concerned and challenged in identifying the mechanics to be applied in the quantification and the computation of the compensatory package; how it will be distributed seeing that the actual victims of this crime against humanity have passed on; and what legal arguments can be mobilized to rationalize and identify the descendants as the beneficiaries and whether sums are to be tax-free seeing that they represent compensation ex post facto.

Having established this frame of reference I am wondering whether the British Government that was the architect of both slavery and indentureship can invoke and put a price on the the granting of independence, sovereignty, ownership and control collectively speaking of the real estate of its former colonies including the built environment/infrastructure, systems of democratic Westminster governance and justice, to the collectivity of Africans, Indians, Chinese, French, Portuguese, mixed races and request that the economic value of this factor be placed on the scales of distributive or reparatory justice or of equity and justice?

Can the granting of reparatory/ monetary justice or what appears to be glorified back-pay remove the scars and the wounds inflicted by the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade/system of colonialism after the money is finished?

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