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The Netherlands Royal Family Role in Slavery Under Investigation

Dutch Royal Family
The Netherlands Royal Family Role in Slavery Under Investigation. Image Source:

Efforts to find facts about the Dutch’s history of slavery which can serve as lessons about state accountability continue to be encouraged by the King of the Netherlands, Willem-Alexander.

On Tuesday 6th December 2022, the king ordered independent researchers to conduct an investigation into the role of the royal family in the colonial period as honestly and clearly as possible.

According to the Dutch Government Information Service Office (RVD), three Dutch historians and a human rights expert will carry out the investigation, which will take three years and span from the 16th century to the post-colonial period.

Later this month, RVD reports, the Dutch government will apologise for its role in slavery during the colonial period. To make amends, the Netherlands is expected to devote around 200 million euros (Rp3.2 billion) to awareness-raising efforts about the role of colonial powers in slavery and 27 million euros (Rp440 billion) to open a slavery museum.

The announcement followed last year’s recommendation by an advisory panel that the government recognised the 17th- to 19th-century transatlantic slave trade as a crime against humanity.

Earlier this year, the Netherlands’ central bank apologised for its role in the slave trade and said it would fund a project to raise awareness of the crimes of slavery.

Dutch bank ABN Amro, last April also apologised for similar involvement of its legitimate predecessors in the slave trade, plantation slavery, and trade in products derived from slavery.

The Netherlands played a major role in the global slave trade from the 17th century, until it was abolished in the late 19th century.

According to government data, West India companies operated ships that are estimated to have trafficked around 600,000 people as slaves for centuries.

Enslaved people were forced to work under harsh and inhumane conditions on plantations in the Dutch overseas colonies in the Caribbean and South America.

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