Netherlands apologizes for slave trade
Dec. 19, 2022
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte formally apologized on behalf of the state for the Netherlands’ historical role in the slave trade on Monday. He said slavery must be recognized in “the clearest terms” as a crime against humanity.
Rutte spoke in The Hague, while other Dutch ministers were traveling to seven former colonies in the Caribbean — Suriname, Bonaire, Sint Maarten, Aruba, Curaçao, Saba, and Sint Eustatius.
The prime minister’s address was a response to a report published last year by a government-appointed advisory board, set up after the 2020 killing of George Floyd in the U.S. The report said Dutch participation in slavery had been a crime against humanity deserving of a formal apology and financial reparations.
The report said that what it called institutional racism in the Netherlands “cannot be seen separately from centuries of slavery and colonialism and the ideas that have arisen in this context.”
The government has, however, ruled out reparations, but will set up a 200 million euro educational fund for initiatives that will help tackle the legacy of slavery in the Netherlands and its former colonies.
Descendants’ groups and some of the affected countries criticized the apology as rushed and argued that the lack of consultation from the Netherlands showed persistent colonial attitudes. Others dismissed the value of words without the backing of monetary compensation for the damages wrought by slavery.
In 2013, CARICOM, made a list of requests including that European governments formally apologize and create a repatriation program for those who wish to return to their homeland, which has not happened.
(Guardian, Deutsche Welle, Guardian, Associated Press, Deutsche Welle, NLTimes, Associated Press)
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