(Reuters) - British Prime Minister David Cameron said his administration would not make reparations for the country’s role in the Caribbean slave trade, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Cameron made the remarks during his visit to Jamaica, the first for a British prime minister in 14 years, according to the BBC. (bbc.in/1POBCd2)
“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 told Jamaica’s parliament, according to the BBC.
Caribbean leaders in 2014 approved a 10-point plan to seek reparations from the former slave-owning states of Europe. The Caribbean countries said European governments in addition to being responsible for conducting slavery and genocide, also imposed 100 years of racial apartheid and suffering on freed slaves and the survivors of genocide.
Slavery ended throughout the Caribbean in the 1800s in the wake of slave revolts, and left many of the region’s plantation economies in tatters. Caribbean leaders have said that the region continues to suffer from the effects of slavery today.
The BBC reported Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller said she had broached the issue of reparations with Cameron.
Governments in the Caribbean have estimated that reparations for the slave trade could cost trillions of dollars and some have floated the idea of debt relief, the BBC reported.
The BBC said some 46,000 British slave-owners, including a distant relative of Cameron‘s, were among those compensated a current-day equivalent of 17 billion pounds for “loss of human property” after the country emancipated its slaves in 1833.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would be open to apologizing for the slave trade were he to become prime minister, the BBC said.
The issues of slavery and reparations have reverberated in the United States in recent years as well. Ta-Nehisi Coates, a journalist for the Atlantic and recent “genius” grant winner, wrote an influential article in 2014 making the case for reparations. And in 2008 Congress issued a formal apology for slavery and the subsequent racial segregation known as “Jim Crow.”
Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Lisa Shumaker