UK Prime Minister David Cameron rules out slavery reparation during Jamaica visit

UK Prime Minister David Cameron rules out slavery reparation during Jamaica visit

Slavery British Wealth

Rowena Mason
The Guardian (UK)

KINGSTON- David Cameron has called for Jamaica and the UK to “move on” from the deep wounds caused by slavery but ducked official calls for Britain to apologize for its role or pay reparations.

Speaking to the Caribbean country’s parliament, the prime minister struck a defiant note as he spoke of his pride that Britain had played a part in abolishing the “abhorrent” trade, without highlighting its historic involvement in the transfer of slaves from west Africa and ownership of slaves in the Caribbean.

He called for the two countries to “move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future”.

His trade trip to Jamaica, the first for 14 years by a UK prime minister, has been overshadowed by the issue of slavery. Cameron was warmly received by a military band playing God Save the Queen on arrival at the airport and received a hug from the country’s prime minister, Portia Simpson Miller.

However, during the trip, high-profile politicians and campaigners drew attention to a distant relative of Cameron’s, Gen Sir James Duff, who was compensated for losing 202 Jamaican slaves in 1833 when the trade was abolished.

He has also been pressed to “atone” for slavery personally and on behalf of the UK by Bert Samuels, a member of the National Reparations Commission, and Simpson Miller publicly raised the issue of compensation after their bilateral talks.

In response, Cameron initially did not address the issue of reparations or an apology, telling UK media he was in the country to talk about trade and the future. But speaking to the national parliament in Kingston, he made clear the UK wanted to draw a line under the legacy of slavery.

“While there is indeed much to celebrate about our past, it would be wrong to do so while ignoring the most painful aspects of it – a period which should never be forgotten, and from which history has drawn the bitterest of lessons,” Cameron said.

“Slavery was and is abhorrent in all its forms. It has no place whatsoever in any civilised society, and Britain is proud to have eventually led the way in its abolition.

“That the Caribbean has emerged from the long shadow it cast is testament to the resilience and spirit of its people. I acknowledge that these wounds run very deep indeed. But 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 said his reason for wanting to come to Jamaica was because of the need to strengthen the bonds between the UK and the Caribbean.

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Video: UK Slavery Reparations David Cameron has called for Jamaica to “move on”

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Video: Slavery Reparations dominate David Cameron’s Jamaica visit

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