The Dutch government plans to issue a formal apology next month for its history as a slaving nation, the RTL news website reported on Thursday, citing sources.
- According to the outlet, the government also intends to set up a €200 million ‘slavery awareness fund’ which will finance the relevant projects and dedicated school programs. Additional €27 million will be allocated to create a slavery museum, RTL’s sources said.
The government’s move will constitute a formal response to a report last year by the Dialogue Group on Slavery History. The commission, which was set up by the Interior Ministry, recommended that Prime Minister Mark Rutte should recognize and apologise for past slavery.
“On the one hand, recognition will give satisfaction to those who suffered under slavery, and on the other hand, it will promote a critical view of Dutch history in a broader sense,” the group said at the time.
The formal apology, which is not expected until mid-December, will reportedly be supported by most MPs and key parliamentary parties have already called on the government to take a stand.
- In July, 2021, the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, officially apologized for “the active involvement” of the city “in the commercial system of colonial slavery.”
Between the 16th and 19th centuries, the Netherlands maintained colonies in the regions known today as Indonesia, South Africa, Curaçao and New Guinea.
- It was one of the last countries to abolish slavery, doing so in 1863 in its main colony of Surinam in South America. 2023 will mark 150 years since the Netherlands freed tens of thousands slaves there and on the Dutch Caribbean islands.
In September, during a short official visit to Surinam, PM Rutte said that “the time is right” for the recognition of slavery.