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Europe must offer moral, financial recompense for slave trade, Caribbean leader tells UN

ST. VINCENT – Two centuries after the end of the British trade in African slaves to the Caribbean and the Americas, Europe has failed to apologize or offer any reparations “for this crime against humanity and genocide,” the Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines told the General Assembly Thursday, September 21st as he urged the United Nations to help provide justice.

Speaking during the Assembly’s annual debate, Ralph Gonsalves said next March represents the 200th anniversary of the passage of laws abolishing the British slave trade, which was “a monstrous crime against humanity and an exercise in genocide unmatched in the history of the Western world.”

Prime Minister Ralph E. Gonsalves

Dr. Gonsalves said European and North American nations have “failed and/or refused to acknowledge” these crimes sufficiently or at all, offering no formal apology or practical recompense.

He also raised “the wholly wrong and inhumane exploitation by colonialism and imperialism of indentured labour” from across Africa, India, China and Madeira after the abolition of African slavery in the Caribbean, as well as the genocide of indigenous peoples, including the Callinago and Garifuna of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“Europe has much to answer for on these matters and should be made to answer properly, appropriately. Historic wrongs not righted remain scars on the soul of the oppressor and the oppressed alike, which continue to haunt over the ages; it is a hateful burden which must be lifted.”

The issue of slavery should be placed on the agenda of the UN for “speedy resolution,” he said.

During his address Dr. Gonsalves also criticized some UN Member States for spending too much time over the past year absorbed with the debate about mandate review and management reform, instead of devoting more effort to implementing the ‘Development Resolution’ and the world’s poor.

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