Tony Blair apologies for Britain’s role in the Slave Trade

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15 March 2007

In a welcome move, Prime Minister Tony Blair said sorry for Britain’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade.

“I have said we are sorry and I say it again … [It is important] to remember what happened in the past, to condemn it and say why it was entirely unacceptable,” he said after meeting Ghana President John Agyekum Kufuor on 14 March.

Anti-Slavery International has been calling on the UK Government to make a formal apology for Britain’s role in the Transatlantic Slave Trade and to take action to address its legacies, which continue to affect communities in Africa, the Americas and Caribbean.

During the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Britain transported and enslaved an estimated 3 million people from Africa.

The Transatlantic Slave Trade stands apart from both past and present forms of slavery in terms of its scale and brutality, the legal framework that supported it and the long term repercussions it would have on three continents.

Out of approximately 24 million people who were forcibly removed from Africa and enslaved by the European powers and United States, only some 10 million managed to survive long enough to reach the Americas and the Caribbean. Those who did had to endure conditions so hard that, in the Caribbean, approximately one in every three Africans died within three years of arriving.

On 25 March 1807, Britain abolished the Slave Trade. This was not the end of slavery, people could still own other human beings, but it ended the trade from Africa to the British colonies and marked an important step on the path to the total abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade and the liberation of those who had been enslaved.