JIS News

The case for the provision of reparations for slavery has been strongly argued by Attorney-at-law Lord Anthony Gifford, who has said that the descendants of slaves must come together to influence international opinion on the matter. Lord Gifford, who was speaking at a Jamaica National Heritage Trust-organized public forum held recently at the College of Agriculture, Science and Education (CASE) in Passley Gardens, Portland, said that “the slave trade was an international crime of the worst order committed against humanity” and its perpetrators were guilty of one of the worst criminal acts in human history.
He said that the legal basis for reparation for slavery is very strong and the fact that there were laws in England at the time to formalise slavery was not enough justification for its operation. He pointed out further that other racial groups and indigenous people, who have experienced oppression as a part of their history, have received reparation for such treatment.
Citing the reparations paid to the Jews by Germany after World War II and the payment made by the United States to Japan following the destruction caused by the unleashing of atomic bombs on that country during the same war, Lord Gifford said the notion that slavery is too long past for compensation to now be provided for the wrongs done during its existence, is unacceptable.
According to Lord Gifford, an apology is not enough for the sins of slavery, as its dehumanising effects are still impacting the lives of many black people, even though slavery was abolished long ago.
The slave trade is responsibility for the poor economic conditions existing in many countries where black people form the majority of the population, he stated, arguing that Africa has been made poor by the plundering of its resources and the dehumanisation of its people.
In encouraging the people of the Caribbean and Africa to be more forceful in the struggle to secure reparations for slavery, Lord Gifford said there has to be a strong moral and political case for such action, as any decision in that regard by international courts is likely to be disregarded because of the limited jurisdiction of such institutions.
Noting the support for reparation by Minister of Transport and Works, Mike Henry and Opposition Leader, Portia Simpson-Miller, Lord Gifford said it is now time for Jamaican politicians to put words into action and table a reparation claim in Parliament.
The noted Attorney-at-Law expressed confidence that compensation will become a reality in much the same way that the dream to liberate South Africa from the evil of apartheid was realised.