Dionne Rose, Staff Reporter
The Government is currently gleaning information on the slave trade to make 'a credible claim' for reparation, said Aloun Assamba, Minister of Tourism, Entertainment and Culture.
Mrs. Assamba made the disclosure on Tuesday while making her contribution to the debate on a private members motion moved by Mike Henry, the Opposition Member of Parliament for Central Clarendon.
Mr. Henry wants Parliament to demand reparations for people of African descent whose foreparents were forced into slavery in the Americas by European slave-trading nations.
Mrs. Assamba said the Jamaica National Bicentenary Committee, which was established by former Prime Minister P.J. Patterson and chaired by University of the West Indies Professor Verene Shepherd, was working on the issue of reparation.
"Under the direction of Professor Shepherd we are now mining enough data as we can about the slave trade," she said. "A student has been engaged to focus on this project so that we have enough information to make a credible claim," she emphasised.
Andrew Holness, Opposition Spokesman on Education, said the Government should take the opportunity to call upon the British Government, through a one-off payment, to help fund the transformation of the country's education system.
Professor Rex Nettleford, Vice- Chancellor Emeritus at the University of the West Indies, in a recent column in The Gleaner, also made the suggestion.
Said the professor: "If the British Prime Minister truly regrets the role Great Britain played in industrialising slavery throughout the world, then he can make amends to the people of the West IndiesÉ (in a) simple way. He can have the British Government make a contribution towards widening the provision of tertiary education and training in the West Indies to equip the descendants of the slaves to meet the challenges of this new century and beyond."
The debate was suspended and will continue at the next sitting of the House.