David Cameron rules out slavery reparation during Jamaica visit
Radio New Zealand International
September 30, 2015 6:10 pm
David Cameron has ruled out making reparations for Britain’s role in the historic slave trade and urged Caribbean countries to move on.
The prime minister acknowledged that “these wounds run very deep” during his visit to Jamaica, where he faced calls to apologise from campaigners.
He said Britain’s role in wiping slavery “off the face of our planet” should be remembered.
Jamaican PM Portia Simpson Miller said she had raised the issue in talks.
Addressing MPs in Jamaica’s parliament, Cameron said slavery was abhorrent in all its forms.
He added: “I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest of times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future.”
Cameron also announced £25m in British aid for a new Jamaican prison and a £300m development package for the Caribbean which will provide grants for infrastructure projects, including roads and bridges.
He said his visit – the first by a British prime minister in 14 years – was to reinvigorate ties between the countries, and that he wanted to concentrate on future relations rather than centuries-old issues.
Simpson Miller said while she was aware of the obvious sensitivities, Jamaica was involved in a process under the auspices of the Caribbean Community Caricom to engage the UK on the matter.
Cameron’s speech, a small group of protesters with placards that read reparations now gathered outside parliament.