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Caricom requests reparation talks with Europe

July 5, 2014

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (AP) — A Caribbean trade bloc has requested a meeting with European nations that engaged in the Atlantic slave trade to talk about reparations.

Caricom made the announcement Friday at the end of its four-day regional summit held in Antigua.

Leaders are working with the British law firm Leigh Day and expect to soon submit a report about slavery and its lingering effects on the region’s 15 million people. Leigh Day previously obtained about $21.5 million in compensation for surviving Kenyans who were tortured by the British colonial government during a rebellion in the 1950s and 1960s.

Caricom also pledged to raise the issue at upcoming United Nations General Assembly sessions that are scheduled to start soon.

Caribbean leaders adopted a 10-point plan in March that seeks a formal apology and debt cancellation from former colonizers such as Britain, France and the Netherlands. It also demands that Europe help strengthen the Caribbean’s public health, educational and cultural institutions, as well as help boost the region’s technological sector.

In 2007, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair expressed regret for the “unbearable suffering” caused by his country’s role in slavery, but he issued no formal apology.

Likewise, in 2010, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy acknowledged the “wounds of colonization” and noted that his country canceled a 56 million euro debt owed by Haiti and approved an aid package.

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