UN report urges countries to consider financial reparations for transatlantic slavery

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A UN report calling on countries to consider financial reparations for transatlantic slavery has been hailed as a significant step forward by campaigners. The report by the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said no country had comprehensively accounted for the past and addressed the legacy of the mass enslavement of people of African descent for more than 400 years. “Under international human rights law, compensation for any economically assessable damage, as appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation and the circumstances of each case, may also constitute a form of reparations,” the report said. “In the context of historical wrongs and harms suffered as a result of colonialism and enslavement, the assessment of the economic damage can be extremely difficult owing to the length of time passed and the difficulty of identifying the perpetrators and victims.” The report stressed, however, that the difficulty in making a legal claim to compensation “cannot be the basis for nullifying the existence of underlying legal obligations”. Campaigners have described the report as an important step forward in the fight for reparative justice. Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the Labour MP and chair of the all-party parliamentary group on Afrikan reparations, said: “This is a hugely...