Regional reparations conference opens in St. Vincent tomorrow

Professors Sir Hilary Beckles and Verene Shepherd and famed Jamaican reggae artiste Bunny Wailer are among those who will make presentations at the three-day Regional Conference on Reparations beginning in St. Vincent and the Grenadines tomorrow.

A press release from the Caricom Secretariat said that the opening ceremony will be addressed by Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves, Minister of Culture of Barbados Stephen Lashley, and Jamaican educator Professor Shepherd.

Bunny Wailer will also perform at the opening, and will make a presentation on behalf of the Rastafarians the following day, the release said.

It added that the proceedings on Monday, which will be open to the public and streamed live, will feature presentations by the Chairpersons of the National Reparation Committees, Principal of the Cave Hill Campus of the University of the West Indies, Professor Beckles, Professor Shepherd and representatives of regional and other organisations.

Further, Tuesday’s sessions, in which attorneys, government representatives and representatives of the reparations commissions will consider legal options, will be closed. On Tuesday also, the Chairpersons of the National Reparations Committees will select a Regional Reparations Commission Chair.

According to the release, the conference is the first major event on reparations following the Thirty-fourth Conference of the Heads of Government of Caricom in Trinidad and Tobago in July. At the Summit, Heads of Government agreed to the establishment of a National Reparations Committee in each Member State with the Chair of each Committee sitting on a Caricom Reparations Commission. The Heads of Government of Barbados (Chair), St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were identified to provide political oversight.

The Community’s approach would be to hold a development conversation and to use all reasonable avenues to reach an amicable solution on reparations, the release added.

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