Dutch government apologises for the Netherlands’ history of slavery

Dutch government apologises for the Netherlands’ history of slavery

In a historic speech on Monday afternoon, Prime Minister Mark Rutte apologised, on behalf of the Dutch government, for the role the Netherlands played in the international slave trade and the practice of slavery. 

Dutch government apologises for slavery in historic speech

For years, the Dutch Prime Minister had said repeatedly the government would not apologise for the country’s history with slavery, but mounting pressure from various action groups and organisations, as well as the decisions taken by several municipalities (including Amsterdam) to apologise for the role they had played in the Dutch slave trade, and a damning report published last summer, ultimately resulted in Rutte changing his mind. 

In the speech, which was broadcast live from the National Archives in The Hague and streamed to audiences in Suriname, Bonaire, Saint Eustatius, Saba, Aruba, Curaçao and Saint Martin, Rutte said that, for years, the Dutch government had enabled, encouraged, maintained and benefited from slavery, and that in the decades following the abolition of slavery, the state had failed to recognise the lasting impact of the Dutch slave trade. 

Rutte recognises the Netherlands's role in "unimaginable suffering"

"People have been made commodities. Human dignity has been trampled underfoot, in a horrible way,” the Prime Minister said, adding - in Dutch, English, Sranan Tongo and Papiamentu - “Today, I apologise.” Rutte emphasised that the apology would act as “a comma, not a full stop” in the ongoing conversations about the country’s history

"Millions of people have suffered... The Netherlands must face its share in this,” the Prime Minister said. “The numbers are unimaginable, the suffering even more unimaginable.”

Victoria Séveno


Victoria Séveno

Victoria grew up in Amsterdam, before moving to the UK to study English and Related Literature at the University of York and completing her NCTJ course at the Press Association...

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