National Committee on Reparations for TT

Sunday, November 24 2013

EmancipationA National Committee on Reparations is being established in Trinidad and Tobago, the Communications Unit of the Office of the Prime Minister said yesterday.

In a media release, the Communications Unit said persons responsible for setting up the Committee met with Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar SC at the Parliament Building on Friday.

Persad-Bissessar said she was pleased that such a National Committee was being established, noting that Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonzalves, was making a case out within Caricom for such a Committee to be established in all islands.

The third and final meeting on the establishment of the National Committee on Reparations took place on November 22, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Two previous meetings were held on October 8 and 22.

The meeting comprised stakeholders from relevant ministries and organisations across the country who informed on proper procedures and practices that should be considered before the establishment of our National Committee, the release said.

At the second meeting, the committee was able to make contact with Dr Hilary Brown, Programme Manager, Culture and Community Development at the Caricom Secretariat, as well as Ambassador Edwin Carrington who were able to give their suggestions.

The final meeting focussed on the Draft Terms of Reference for the National Committee on Reparations. Attention was given to:

1. The legal process of the committee — Reference to the UN General Assembly which adopted Resolution 60/147 Basic Principles and Guidelines on the right to a remedy and Reparation for victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law in March 2006 which called on states to promote respect of its contents.

2. Context of the Committee — Each nation that does not have a Committee on Reparation agreed to set one up, sending a representative to the Regional Commission on Reparation which would be seen by Heads of Government.

Focus would be on Britain on behalf of the English-speaking Caribbean as well as France for the slavery in Haiti and The Netherlands for Suriname, a former Dutch Colony.

3. The Scope — The Committee’s work programme would include activities such as public consultations, presentations involving educational institutions and non-governmental organisations, media interviews, the showing of films, and maintaining an interactive website including various elements of social media.

4. Objectives — a) Detailed brief on the cost of the damages and current manifestations of such damages on indigenous people. b) Establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of Reparations. c) Engage and partner with national civil society organisations involved in the Reparations Movement. d) Develop and recommend decisive political action at the national level through parliamentary debates.

5. Specific Activities — a) Receive submissions and hear testimonies.

b) Recommend diplomatic initiatives, education and public information required.

c) Recommend the appointment of eminent spokespersons and champions for the cause of reparations among artists, attorneys, scholars etc.

d) Provide a report of its deliberations and recommendations to relevant Ministers and to the Regional Reparations Commission.

The release said that to have a successful and effective National Committee, the following must be done:

1) A series of consultations must take place before the committee is formally constituted.

2) The public has to be mobilised and must understand the issue.

3) The Committee would require a strong research component.