European Countries Sued for Slavery ReparationsA 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.

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  • BeanBean

    I’m glad they are suing, they should. Europe made all the money it has because of slavery, and none of the slaves were ever compensated. If the suit is won, I would like the money to go to the black people on these islands, but that isn’t going to happen. The money would go to the rich elite, that can’t seem to manage money very well. But Haiti???? Haiti won their independence not long after the US and should be a first world country by now.

    • IET

      Haïti was freed in 1804. But France levied a debt (freedom tax) against them that they only just forgave after the 2010 earthquake. Hard to be first world when you face systemic, financial slavery for 200 years after your freedom.

    • BeanBean

      It’s because Haiti got outsmarted and out maneuvered. It’s sad that it happened, but most of the problems they are having now are self made. Poor money management, terrible leaders, bad policies. Giving money to people who can’t manage it doesn’t make sense at all. Look at some lottery winners. If they can’t manage $100, they can’t be trusted with $1 million. I hope things change in Haiti because the people deserve to be prosperous. Hong Kong got their independence less than 20 years ago and look at them, hopefully Haiti will rise.

    • T.

      Haiti actually seems to me to have the strongest case, in that France claimed and received actual monetary compensation from Haiti for emancipation and independence; it is arguable that Haiti entered into that agreement under duress, and that it was unreasonable, and the country should be entitled to have that money back and can quantify the amount they are owed. I think the fact that France abolished slavery in Haiti and then reinstated it a few years later probably also factors in.