United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron visited Jamaica this week, the first time a British prime minister has visited the country in 14 years.
But while Mr. Cameron planned mainly to discuss trade issues between the two countries, calls by Jamaican leaders for slavery reparations have reportedly taken centre stage during the visit.
According to the Guardian, Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller discussed reparations with Mr. Cameron on Tuesday night – hours before his arrival – but he didn’t touch on the topic when he gave his initial statements upon landing.
Mr. Cameron did address the issue yesterday when speaking in front of the Jamaican parliament, ruling out reparations as an option and urging Caribbean countries to “move on” while reminding them of Britain’s role in wiping slavery “off the face of the planet,” according to multiple reports.
“I do hope that, as friends who have gone through so much together since those darkest times, we can move on from this painful legacy and continue to build for the future,” he said, according to BBC News.
The UK prime minister also announced that his government would spend £25 million on a new prison in Jamaica that will hold Jamaican nationals who are currently in the UK.
BBC News stated that there are more than 600 Jamaican nationals in UK prison cells, but they can’t be deported because of the Caribbean country’s poor prison conditions.
The £25 million to build a new prison will reportedly accompany a £300 million development package from the UK to provide Caribbean countries with grants for infrastructure projects, including roads and bridges.