In Brief

Britain to build prison in Jamaica amid calls for slavery reparations

Government will spend £25 million so hundreds of foreign criminals can be sent home to the Caribbean

The government is planning to repatriate hundreds of Jamaican criminals to jails that will be built with British foreign aid funds.

The scheme will cost £25m and apply to Jamaican prisoners sentenced to at least four years who have 18 months or more left to serve in custody.

There are more than 600 Jamaican citizens in UK jails, with 70 per cent serving sentences for violence and drug offences.

The British government is currently unable to send them back to Jamaica because of fears that poor jail conditions would allow a successful challenge under human rights law, says the BBC.

David Cameron announced the project while on a trip to the Caribbean. "This agreement is so important. It will mean Jamaican criminals are sent back home to serve their sentences, saving the British taxpayer millions of pounds but still ensuring justice is done," the prime minister said.

Cameron also announced plans for a wider £300m infrastructure project, jointly funded by the Caribbean Development Bank, aimed at improving roads and ports and boosting economic growth.

But his visit has been overshadowed by growing controversy surrounding the payment of slavery reparations. Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller raised the issue at a meeting yesterday but Cameron ignored the subject, saying his visit was about future trade ties, says The Guardian.

Speaking ahead of his trip to the Caribbean, a Downing Street spokesperson said the government "abhorred" slavery, but it did not believe that financial reparations were the right approach.

But the pressure on Cameron is growing. Bert Samuels, a member of the Jamaican National Commission on Reparations, said he needed to "atone, apologise, personally and on behalf of his country" for slavery.

"His lineage has been traced and his forefathers were slave-owners and benefited from slavery," said Samuels. "We were left behind because of racism."

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