Historic move: the government will apologize for past slavery

Historic move: the government will apologize for past slavery

The money put into this so-called awareness fund can be used, among other things, for information about past slavery in the Netherlands, projects to draw attention to it and teaching packages in schools.

A total of nine ministries contribute to filling the fund. According to an internal source, in this way the ministers of all four coalition parties (VVD, D66, CDA and CU) are participating in raising awareness of what the Netherlands did during slavery.


The Cabinet decision will not be announced until mid-December. It is part of an official response from the government to the report of the Advisory Council Dialogue Group on the History of Slavery, published last year.

This council advised, among other things, that the Prime Minister should apologize on behalf of the Government for the suffering it had caused. So the latter will happen.

In doing so, the Cabinet is also following advice that parliamentary groups D66, CDA, PvdA, SP, GroenLinks, ChristenUnie, Volt and BIJ1 (together for 72 seats) issued recently after a trip to Suriname and the Antilles. Since DENK and the Animals Party are also in favor of making excuses, an apology can count on the support of the parliamentary majority.

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According to these representatives, apologies should be sincere. This devotion can be seen in a change in action: “In how we presently deal with our colonial history, with indigenous peoples, enslaved heirs and with other victims of the colonial era, such as servants,” MPs previously wrote in an advice to the Cabinet.

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In June of this year, the Cabinet refrained from making such a gesture during the annual celebration of the abolition of slavery in Keti Koti. Prime Minister Rutte said in September during a two-day visit to Suriname that the coming year must prevail in recognition of the suffering of slavery. Next year will be 150 years after the abolition of slavery.

‘Apologies for past slavery are historic’

“This will be a historic step for the Council of Ministers,” says political correspondent Vons Lambie. Thinking about The Hague has changed in recent years. We must take this step,” the D66 and ChristenUnie coalition parties said in 2020. In recent years, we’ve slowly worked toward that. You see that a lot of ministers and ministers of state, including ministers Minister Rutte has delved into that. Cabinet members have held talks, confronting directly the people who continue to suffer the consequences of the excesses of more than a hundred years ago. Minister Weywind’s story of legal protection also makes an impression. His ancestors were enslaved. It comes in more than history books or exhibitions. For example, the change occurred in the treasury. Something that seemed politically unimaginable ten years ago will now happen.”

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