whats going on?
In early November, the cabinet announced that the government would apologize for the Netherlands’ role in colonial slavery. The government also wants to set aside 200 million euros for an awareness fund. In addition, another 27 million euros will be available for the Slave Museum, which will open in 2025. 2023 is about remembering the past of slavery. Slavery was abolished by law in 1863. But slaves were forced to work on the plantations until 1873. On July 1, 2023, that will be 150 years ago.
Many countries, including Germany, Belgium, France, the United Kingdom, Benin, Ghana and the United States, have acknowledged their role in the past of slavery with official apologies and legislation on recognition, amnesty and reparation.
And in the Netherlands Social conversation Slavery is a thing of the past and an apology or not plays an increasingly important role. This is due to the Zwarte Piet debate, Black Lives Matter protests, and increased attention (and subsidies) to Getty Cody. Many private companies and local governments have already taken action. So among others APN Amro And Dutch Bank Apologized. Further And many municipalities are becoming aware of the slavery past. communities Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Hack And Utrecht Officially apologized, as well Province of North Holland.
These developments seem to have had an impact on the government. A few years ago Prime Minister Rutte took the position that slavery was too long a thing of the past and an apology could further polarize society, but now the tide has turned. In early November, the cabinet announced that the government would apologize for the Netherlands’ role in colonial slavery. The government also wants to set aside 200 million euros for an awareness fund. In addition, another 27 million euros will be available for the Slave Museum, which will open in 2025. 2023 is about remembering the past of slavery. Slavery was abolished by law in 1863. But slaves were forced to work on the plantations until 1873. On July 1, 2023, that will be 150 years ago.
What does this have to do with human rights?
It is widely accepted internationally that slavery is a violation of human rights and a crime against humanity. The slave trade and exploitation of the enslaved during the colonial era deprived people of their fundamental right to control their own lives based on ‘race’. Others took advantage of this. The resulting economic, social and political inequalities persist in today’s society. Like it Tendai Achiume, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, says:, “The systematic abolition of slavery and colonialism is insufficient to completely reverse these racial inequalities that have consolidated over centuries.” By different UN This history has been repeatedly cited as one of the main causes of contemporary forms of racism and discrimination.
Human Rights Commissioner European Forum He points out that the past of slavery has left an indelible mark on this continent. As a result, deep-seated prejudices and inequalities emerged that are still present in society today. According to him, social issues such as racism, racial profiling and the rejection of immigrants of African descent are still not sufficiently recognized in the sports world.
What does forgiveness mean from a human rights perspective?
An apology is a remedy for human rights violations. In case of serious human rights violations, there is a legal obligation to provide compensation. It follows from international law that reparations should be given primarily to the victims of those violations and their loved ones or to the community from which the victims came. Restoring the rights of enslaved people is no longer possible. However, this does not mean that there is no longer any reason for recovery from a human rights perspective. A formal and general pardon, in which the pardoner acknowledges and takes responsibility for the crimes committed, is also a form of reparation. Other examples of reparations include erecting a memorial to commemorate the events and victims and raise awareness of human rights violations and their consequences. In such forms of restitution, what matters is that the (historical) truth comes to light, that abuses and suffering are clarified and made public.
Not just as a form of moral satisfaction for the descendants of the victims – in this case: the enslaved. By acknowledging that people’s basic dignity was violated through slavery, the Netherlands affirms the dignity of all Dutch people, regardless of race or origin. This will help ensure that such tragedies never happen again. It is also considered a support for descendants who may still have to deal with loss or stereotypes resulting from views or power relations from a history of slavery. This is not to say that all these forms of rehabilitation cannot or should not have a financial component: research, fact-finding, public information, and increasing social opportunities and possibilities for the community of descendants of the enslaved are often the result of financial efforts. Government questions of the enslaved.
Engagement of stakeholders and their organizations
When pardons and other reparations are granted, this should be done in good consultation with the descendants of the enslaved. All initiatives must be developed, monitored and evaluated together with the target audience. Precisely by properly designing this process and tailoring recovery as closely as possible to the rights and needs of the affected group, recovery becomes more effective, efficient and efficient.
Focusing on the impact of past slavery and dealing with racial discrimination
Awareness of colonial slavery and its consequences remains low in Dutch society today. This is the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur after a visit to the Netherlands in 2019. Therefore, he developed a recommendation for a structurally greater focus on information, awareness, and education about the history of slavery and colonialism. Education should give a complete picture of how the Netherlands accumulated its wealth in the past and what effect this had on the descendants of the enslaved.
Lack of awareness among the Dutch may explain why many do not see the need for recovery. from one Review of I&O Research in 2021, commissioned by Trouw, 55% of respondents said they don’t want to apologize. They think slavery is a serious past, but they don’t think an apology is appropriate. There are big differences in background; More than 62% of Dutch people without a migration background do not think an apology is necessary, and more than 70% of Dutch people with a Surinamese or Antillean background think it is important.
Raising awareness about slavery and its consequences can contribute to eliminating racial discrimination. UN Anti-Racism This is an obligation based on the Convention, other human rights treaties and national laws. Various international and European supervisory authorities have advised the Netherlands in this regard.
Valuable recommendations have been made to the government at the national level as well. It is Advisory Group Discussion Group Slavery History, set up by the Minister of Home Affairs and Kingdom Relations, organized a dialogue on slavery’s past and its impact on contemporary society. In the report Chains of the past The Advisory Committee advised the State to:
- Recognizes that slavery and the slave trade are crimes against humanity
- Slavery takes responsibility for confronting the abuses of the past
- Recognizes that the effects of slavery are still felt today
- Apologizes. The government is taking important steps to comply with these recommendations, with a formal apology and the establishment of a museum.
By issuing the apology, the government is taking an important step in acknowledging the seriousness of slavery’s past and the most fundamental human rights violations that occurred during that period. The Consultative Group Dialogue Group on Slavery and International (Human Rights) Organizations has valuable recommendations for taking further steps to recognize and commemorate the past of slavery. The organization feels that recognition and commemoration contribute to raising awareness among all Dutch people. It will contribute to the contemporary promotion and realization of the right to equal treatment and non-discrimination of those rooted in former Dutch colonies.
What does the college do?
The Netherlands Institute for Human Rights is active in the field of information and awareness about discrimination and prejudices that lead to discrimination. The organization therefore provides information on human rights through campaigns, education and training. The Board also monitors compliance with the Dutch Equal Treatment Act, for example by issuing a judgment in response to individual discrimination complaints.
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