The Netherlands has apologised for its colonial past and the enslavement and exploration mandated by the Dutch state during the 17th-19th centuries. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said that slavery must be recognised in “the clearest terms” as “a crime against humanity”. The speech in The Hague on Monday came ahead of ministerial visits to the Caribbean and Suriname. In his remarks Mr. Rutte said: “Today I apologise for the past actions of the Dutch State to enslaved people in the past.” However, critics have complained of insufficient consultation and say the way it has been pushed through by the Dutch cabinet has a “colonial feel” to it. Six Suriname foundations sought a court injunction to push the apology back to 1 July 2023, which would mark the 160th anniversary of the Emancipation Act, although it took another decade before slavery was actually phased out in the Dutch colonies. Along with the formal apology, the Dutch government is expected to allocate approximately $200m to awareness projects and pledge to spend €27m on a slavery museum. More than 600,000 people from Africa and Asia were trafficked by Dutch merchants between the 17th and 19th Centuries.
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