A reader from Jamaica, an investigative journalist, the Jamaica Observer, the Guardian and the Metro shed light on the subject for those, like the writer, who only heard a brief radio broadcast reference to David Cameron’s reply/non reply to the Jamaican request for reparations – planning and reconstruction, not cash as reported.
The Metro reports that Sir Hilary Beckles, chairman of the Caricom Reparations Commission, wrote a gracious open letter (full text in the Jamaica Observer) telling David Cameron that he has benefited from slavery on the island through his ancestral links to General Sir James Duff:
‘You are a grandson of the Jamaican soil who has been privileged and enriched by your forebears’ sins of the enslavement of our ancestors. Successive governments in this land, a place still groaning under the weight of this injustice, have done well during the 53 years of sovereignty, but the burden of inherited mess from slavery and colonialism has overwhelmed many of our best efforts.’
David Cameron failed to reply directly to this call for Britain to help with the planning of economic reconstruction and to that made by Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller (above). Downing Street stepped in, saying that the prime minister does not believe reparations or apologies for slavery are the right approach.
The right approach?
One of Jamaica’s citizen bloggers comments: “If Cameron was in Jamaica to make some postive announcements like the development of IT academies or the major redevelopment of the Jamaican Railway etc I would have said ‘wise move’. But a bleeding prison? China assists Ethiopia to build a state of the art light rail network and Jamaica gets a new prison from Blighty”.
They wanted bread but you offered a stone:
‘Expertise’ in prison services is the latest British export to hit the headlines, though far from being as rewarding as its arms trade. In the news recently, Just Solutions International, the commercial wing of the Ministry of Justice, has offered the Saudi regime its services.
David Hencke reports, on his blog, that Jeremy Corbyn (about whom our Jamaican correspondent has written perceptively) has challenged David Cameron to explain why the British government can’t cancel this contract with the Saudis to provide training for their prison system, just as it is about to execute a teenage dissident and crucify his body.
Will a resurrected, renamed Ministry of Justice spin-off be assisting in the £25m prison proposed for Jamaica?
As our blogger quotes from the BBC News, more than 600 Jamaican nationals are in UK jails but cannot be deported because of Jamaica’s poor prison conditions. – BBC News, he asks:
“Should the current & former Jamaican government ministers feel embarrassed at the poor archaic prison conditions that they have overseen since 1962? If there is one set of people that the British establishment enjoys disrespecting it is definitely Jamaicans. Whether through law/order, education, immigration/visas, trade and now this . . .
“The real reason behind Cameron’s £25 million gift is no doubt to cut the prison capital and running cost to the UK Treasury”.
“David Cameron did announce a £300 million fund for infrastructure development across 8 English speaking Caribbean nations. I just hope the Caribbean leaders and their civil servants double check the small print on such pledges. Refer to Number 10 website . . .
“This is a moment for Jamaica’s opposition leader Andrew Holness to take the initiative and say hell no DC. But given Holness was a guest at the last Tory Party annual conference I wonder. . .
“October is black history month in the UK and in Jamaica October has national heritage week. Cameron’s handout is not the kind of bilateral collaboration worth appreciating. Peace”.