Britain to apologise for its role in slavery

LONDON - Britain's second most senior Church of England cleric called on Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday to formally apologise for Britain's role in the slave trade.

As events take place in Britain and Africa to commemorate the British parliament's abolition of slavery 200 years ago, Archbishop of York John Sentamu said Blair should apologise and admit the "terrible thing" perpetrated by Britain.

Blair has said he was sorry for Britain's prominent involvement in the slave trade and expressed "deep sorrow," but the Ugandan-born archbishop said he should go further.

"Britain is our community and this community was involved in a very terrible trade," he said. "Africa as a community was involved in a very terrible trade, the Church as a community was involved in a terrible trade.

"It is really important that we own up to what was collectively done."

On Saturday about 3000 people marched through London to mark the anniversary of the law abolishing the slave trade in Britain's colonies.

The "walk of witness" was led by Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams and Sentamu. The Church of England has apologised for its role in the slave trade.

The Royal Africa Company, founded in 1672 and based in London, was granted a monopoly in the slave trade. After its charter was revoked in 1698, Bristol and then Liverpool eclipsed London as trading centres.

Britain did not legislate to emancipate slaves until 1833. - Sapa-AP