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Story Highlights

  • The Commission has been established to advise the Government on the case for reparation
  • A $26-million budget has been submitted to the Government
  • The Commission requires the money to undertake a public education programme

A $26-million budget has been submitted to the Government by the National Commission on Reparation (NCR), to carry out the work of the organisation.

The Commission, launched in 2009 under the leadership of the late Professor Barry Chavannes, has been established to advise the Government on the case for reparation and to examine some types of compensation for past injustices suffered by the descendants of slaves in Jamaica.

Chair of the NCR, Professor Verene Shepherd, told a JIS ‘Think Tank’ on July 31 that the Commission requires the money to undertake a public education programme and other activities, including the printing of brochures, presentations in the media, the showing of films and maintaining an interactive website.

“Even if we could get a portion of that, we could start our public education. We have a questionnaire, which we have been trying to administer,” she said, while emphasising the need for the Commission to hold islandwide public meetings in order to hear the views of the people and to clear up any misunderstanding that they might have.

Professor Shepherd, who is also the Director of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, said funds are also needed to finance the work of five working groups, one of them being in public education.

Despite the lack of financial support, she said the Commission, which reconvened last year, will continue “to do what we can.”

“We continue to work because we are energised by the cause and we rely on the media to carry our message, but again, we don’t know how much longer we can continue to work without funds,” she said, noting that members of the Commission, on occasions have used their money to undertake projects, because of their commitment to advancing the work of the Commission.

Professor Shepherd said the Commission has maintained the same terms of reference given by the Government in 2009.

Under the terms of reference, she said the Commission is to receive submissions, hear testimonies, evaluate research and undertake public consultations with the aim of guiding a national response to reparation.

Additionally, she said the Commission is to recommend the diplomatic initiatives, security considerations, education and public information required, and the form or forms that reparation may take, taking into account social, moral, cultural, economic and international factors.

Professor Shepherd pointed out that the Commission has to provide a report of its recommendations to the Minister of Youth and Culture, Hon. Lisa Hanna, who will then report to Parliament.

Other members of the Commission are: Mr. Bert Samuels, Lord Anthony Gifford, Dr. Kadamawe Knife, Dr. Jahlani Niaah, Ms. Marisa Benain, Mr. Michael Holgate, Ms. Thelma JoHill, Mrs. Donna Parchment Brown, Mr. Robert Miller, Mr. Maurice McCurdy, Ms. Mitzie Williams and Ms. Donna McFarlane.