19th December, 2022
The Netherlands will officially apologise for slavery 150 years after handing over power to its former colonies.
Prime Minister Mark Rutte plans to give a speech on slavery at the National Archives in The Hague later in the day.
Representatives of the cabinet are also scheduled to speak in the former Dutch colony of Suriname in South America, as well as on the six Caribbean islands that still belong to the Dutch kingdom today.
The Netherlands was once the third-largest colonial power in the world and enslaved an estimated 500,000 people over 200 years.
They were mostly abducted from West Africa, sold and forced to work on the plantations in Suriname and the Antilles.
The Dutch kingdom was one of the last countries in Europe to officially abolish slavery on July 1, 1863, but the actual end came only in 1873.
Descendants of slaves and inhabitants of the colonies especially, had, at that time, campaigned for an apology for years but Prime Minister Rutte’s government refused to do so.
Meanwhile, the debate about coming to terms with the past was rekindled by the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States.
A government-appointed commission declared in July that the Netherlands had to apologise and actively work to combat the consequences, such as racism.
Slavery is a crime against humanity and the state has to recognise the “historical injustice.’’