A British law firm is helping 14 Caribbean countries seek reparations against European nations for their involvement in the Atlantic Slave trade.
These nations, including Haiti, are suing The United Kingdom, the Netherlands and France for deeds that they say led to a “lingering legacy of the Atlantic Slave trade,” Al Jazeera America reports. The Prime Minister Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves told the United Nations Friday that these European countries should pay for their actions.
“The awful legacy of these crimes against humanity – a legacy which exists today in our Caribbean – ought to be repaired for the developmental benefit of our Caribbean societies and all our peoples,” Gonsalves said in a speech. “The European nations must partner in a focused, especial way with us to execute this repairing.”
The lawsuit has been brought on by The Caribbean Community, Caricom, and will be tried in the UNS International Court of Justice in the Netherlands. The plaintiffs are targeting the nations for their overall impact on the slave trade in the countries that they imperialized (France for Haiti, Netherlands for Suriname). They are hoping to reach a negotiated settlement valued at $21.5 million. Leigh Day, a British law firm, is helping them wage war.
Whether or not reparations will be made is still questionable. In the United States, a country that has a long and painful history of slavery, no compensations have ever been made to African-Americans. According to Al Jazeera America, the House and the Senate issued public apologies for slavery in 2008 and 2009 respectively.
Despite this fact, Caribbeans are not giving up hope. “I think they would undoubtedly want to try and see if this can be resolved amicably,” Martyn Day, a lawyer from the firm, told The Associated Press in July. “But I think the reason they have hired us is that they want to show that they mean business.”
No word has been issued on when proceedings for the lawsuit will begin.