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“We’re very sad about that history”, MP Rutley on Slavery during Visit to Belize

Sep 6, 2023

“We’re very sad about that history”, MP Rutley on Slavery during Visit to Belize

David Rutley, a Member of Parliament in the United Kingdom, has concluded a three-day visit to Belize. In 2022, Rutley was appointed as a Parliamentary Under -Secretary of State at the Foreign, Common Wealth and Development Office with responsibility for the Americas and Caribbean. This morning, Rutley and Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay hosted a press conference at the Phillip Goldson International Airport just before his departure. We will tell you more about his visit, but first reporters got an opportunity to ask Rutley for his thoughts on the discussion surrounding reparations across the Caribbean region. In 2021, the Government of Belize introduced a motion to address the injustices and human rights violations faced by our African ancestors as a result of slavery. Furthermore, the CARICOM Reparations Commission has been created as a regional body to establish a moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparation by the government of all former colonial powers. Here is how the UK Member of Parliament responded.

David Rutley

David Rutley, Member of Parliament, United Kingdom

“For us, absolutely slavery was an abhorrent practice. We’re very sad about that history. Our focus is several folds. One is to make sure that we work with the Belizean government and with other affected countries to make sure that this episode is never forgotten and people learn the lessons from that terrible practice and also to make sure that we work to tackle racism in any form. And, you know, what’s encouraging to see is the open society that you have here in Belize. And you know, we need to make sure that that we always have that and tackle any form of racism or discrimination. But the other thing, and this fits in with some of the other subjects we’ve already talked about, is making sure that we work with Belize and other impacted countries to deliver on their priorities today, whether it’s on development and infrastructure like we’ve done, and it’s not just one road, there are two roads and five hospitals that we’ve been involved with as well and particularly around climate change. This is a directly relevant issue that we need to help impacted countries from slavery tackle. And I’m proud of the work that we’re doing jointly here, but across the Caribbean now to tackle climate change, but also to make sure that we get better access to climate financing. So the SIDS agenda that was mentioned earlier on is absolutely critical. There’s a vitally important conference next year, UN Summit on SIDS. And we’re working absolutely closely with CARICOM and with other key interlocutors such as Prime Minister Motley to take forward the key elements of the Bridgetown Agenda, which is vital across the Caribbean and across SIDS to help deliver. So that is our absolute focus.”