Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell renews call for UK apology

August 28, 2023 in Regional

Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell renewed calls for the United Kingdom to apologise for slavery in the Caribbean and its other former colonies, and to pay reparations.

In an interview with the UK magazine, The Independent, Mitchell criticised Britain for failing to apologise for capturing and enslaving African people adding that their failure to show remorse, sends a ‘bad message’.

“If the UK wants to continue being a country that demonstrates that it upholds the values of justice, fairness, democracy, [and] equal treatment of human beings, then it should be upfront in apologising for slavery,” Mitchell said.

Though asked by multiple prime ministers of former colonies, neither King Charles, the British Monarch nor Rishi Sunak, the British Prime Minister have offered apologies or commitments to pay reparations.

Sunak said “trying to unpick our history is not the right way forward” while King Charles recently spoke only of his “sorrow” and deepening “understanding” of slavery.

“Reluctance or refusal to do so then sends the opposite message Mitchell told the British Newspaper, adding. In Grenada, as a former colony of the UK, we recognise the legacy issues that we’re dealing with and therefore I think it’s the decent thing to do, frankly,” Mitchell told the UK newspaper.

He said that he believes it is critical to improve relations with Britain but that the people of former colonies must be seen as equals by the country that colonised them.

Earlier this year, British Foreign Office minister David Rutley told his parliamentary counterpart, Labour MP Clive Lewis, who has family links in Grenada that “We acknowledge the role of British authorities in enabling the slave trade for many years before being the first global force to drive the end of the slave trade in the British empire.”

But the Grenadian leader condemned that response saying “that’s almost like seeing someone who’s committed murder be applauded for having committed murder.”

“To my mind, that’s nonsensical and, in reality, an attempt to, in a sense, whitewash your own conscience. It was wrong, you should say it’s wrong, give a commitment that you will never support something like that – and then help the victims of the descendants who have to deal with this,” Mitchell said.

Mitchell’s renewed call for the UK to pay reparations and apologise to former colonies, comes as numerous Caribbean nations, which are former colonies of Britain, signal their intent to ditch the monarchy and become a republic.

Mitchell said he hoped Grenada would make that move – which would require a referendum – but said it was not a priority and would like to avoid the matter being used as a “political football”.

“I need to make sure that we get sufficient buy-in from all sectors of society to say ‘this is what we want’, and the average Grenadian understands the benefits of moving to a republican type of government, rather than just the political class,” he said.