The Governor has been under fire following an interview with 284 Media, where he said that paying reparations to the Virgin Islands (VI) for acts of slavery and the slave trade is not the position of the United Kingdom at the moment, while calling for relics of slavery to be preserved in the Territory.
The Premier, speaking in the House of Assembly on September 29, 2020, said on September 14, 2020, he wrote to Baroness Elizabeth G. Sugg, the United Kingdom (UK) Minister for Overseas Territories and Sustainable Development at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, over whether the position expressed by the Governor was that of the UK.
The Premier said the Baroness replied in a letter on September 18, 2020, indicating that the UK supports the position of the Governor.
Governor Augustus J.U. Jaspert On Monday, September 7, 2020, during an interview with 284 Media, said paying reparations to the VI for acts of slavery and the slave trade is not the position of the UK at the moment. He also called for relics of slavery such as the channel named after Slave Owner Sir Francis Drake to be preserved in the Territory for educational purposes.
“In his interview with 284 media, the Governor made clear his belief that slavery is abhorrent, and the error of slavery was a horrific period in the world history and the British history that should never be forgotten.’
Sugg continued, “This was a part of a broader discussion on racism where the governor emphasised the need to continue tackling and challenging injustice, a position that I fully support.”
She said the British Government expressed deep regret for its role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.
The Premier said it is clear the UK government believes a statement is sufficient for slavery and that reparations do not form part of the UK Government’s official policy.
“To say that this is disappointing is an understatement, and I have since so advised the Honourable UK Minister. Your Government fully supports the position of our brothers and sisters of Caricom whose respective populations are made up largely of the descendants of slaves,” he said.
While the UK has not paid reparation to the descendants and victims of slaves, up until 2015 the UK paid reparations to the owners of slaves after the abolition of slavery, the Premier reminded.