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Mitchell: Bahamas has made no decision on reparations

Informal committee will look at reparations issue
Guardian Staff Reporter

Published: Oct 24, 2013

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Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Fred Mitchell said yesterday the government has made no decision to sue the United Kingdom over reparations for slavery.

“The decisions about what ultimately to do rests with the Cabinet and the Bahamian people,” Mitchell said in the House of Assembly.

“In the meantime, an informal ad hoc committee has been formed to work within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Foreign service officer Charmaine Williams will coordinate from the ministry’s side.

“I have asked Alfred Sears, the former attorney general, and Philip Smith, the former MP, to provide their informal ideas and consultations on this matter until we are in a position to formally advise the government.”

Mitchell said the CARICOM Heads of Government, of which The Bahamas is a member, agreed to establish a National Reparations Committee in each member state during a recent meeting in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

He noted that The Bahamas did not attend that meeting.

Mitchell added that there seems to be misinformation in the public that “we were being misled by CARICOM and that somehow The Bahamas was caught unaware and the Bahamian people misled or fooled by its government”.

He also hit out at The Tribune newspaper, saying the issue has created alarmist headlines and ill-informed commentary.

“The prime minister and I were present in Trinidad at the Heads of Government meeting,” he said.

“An official attended the detailed briefing session and we joined the CARICOM consensus that indicated that this was an issue which deserved to be studied.

“I am always shocked although I should not be at the incipient racism and self-hatred which seems to be part of the DNA of some people of African descent.

“I am advised the British government has already expressed regret for slavery. That is a form of reparations already given.”

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