Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Monday apologized on behalf of the government for the Netherland’s past involvement in slavery.
“We can recognize slavery in the clearest terms as a crime against humanity,” Rutte said during a press conference in The Hague.
He expressed regret that for centuries “the Dutch state enabled, encouraged, and profited from slavery.”
“People have been commodified, exploited and traded in the name of the Dutch state,” Rutte added.
He referred to slavery as a “great suffering” that has still an impact on the lives of people.
“We in the Netherlands must face our part in that past,” Rutte said, adding that “nobody alive now is personally to blame for slavery.”
He also recognized that the Dutch state “bears responsibility for the great suffering inflicted on enslaved people and descendants.”
The prime minister then called on to “move forward and have the difficult conversation about the slavery past.”
Rutte expressed his will for a better recognition and understanding ahead of the symbolic date, July 1, 2023, the commemoration day of the abolition of slavery in the Netherlands.