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TARIQ AHMAD, BRITISH MINISTER OF STATE WITH RESPONSIBILITY FOR THE CARIBBEAN, COMMONWEALTH AND THE UNITED NATIONS. (PHOTO CREDIT: JAMAICA GLEANER)
A visiting Minister from the United Kingdom has virtually heaped scorn on the idea of reparations, suggesting that Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean would be better off looking ahead and not peering into history.
British Minister of State with responsibility for the Caribbean, Commonwealth and the United Nations, Tariq Ahmad argued that the issue of reparations only serves to stifle cooperation and opportunities.
Ahmad, who visited Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and Barbados, told the Jamaica Gleaner in an interview that British Prime Minister Theresa May has been clear that the UK has strong, historic ties with Jamaica and the two countries should focus on looking ahead.
“We have great strengths, and I think it’s important that we now move forward on to a positive agenda of what exists and the opportunities which exist. My visit here is not to look back in history, but to help chart an even richer association between Britain and Jamaica,” he said.
In 2013, Caribbean Heads of Governments established the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) with a mandate to prepare the case for reparatory justice for the region’s indigenous and African descendants who were the victims of crimes against humanity in the form of genocide, slavery, slave trading, and racial apartheid
Vice Chancellor of the University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has called for reparations valuing £76 billion (US$100 billion) to be paid to the descendants of enslaved people of the Caribbean by Britain, a former slave-trading nation.
But Ahmad maintained that he would rather focus on planning a better future to build bridges of mutual understanding and relations.
“So I think it’s not important looking back in history. It’s about looking forward and that’s where my focus is on this visit,” he said.