At a virtual media event on Wednesday, Caribbean reparations advocates welcomed and accepted the Kingdom of the Netherlands’ apology for the enslavement of Africans.
But they expressed regret that the statement did not commit to holding compensation negotiations with the parties involved.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte issued a formal apology on behalf of his government on Monday for the Dutch State’s complicity in, encouragement of, preservation of, and financial gain from centuries of the slave trade.
“We acknowledge that the honorable Prime Minister described his statement as ending with a ‘comma’ rather than a ‘full stop.’ This metaphor is encouraging and offers hope for the future. The CARICOM Reparations Commission is keen to enable the Prime Minister to complete the Dutch sentence,” CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) Chairman and UWI Vice-Chancellor Sir Hilary Beckles said.
In this regard, Beckles disclosed that the Commission looks forward to the next step.
He explained there must be a dialogue with nations and communities that continue to suffer and expect to be treated with the dignity of participation in the dialogue.
According to Beckles, with the formal apology from the Dutch Prime Minister acknowledging that the transatlantic slave trade in enchained African bodies and chattel enslavement were crimes against humanity, the reparatory justice movement has moved into a new phase.
“Prime Minister Mark Rutte must be commended for this enlightened development that establishes,” the UWI Vice Chancellor declared.
In addition, Beckles described the Netherlands as the European country best poised to bring global leadership to the long and sustained call for justice.
“His statement moves us closer to closure in respect of the crippling, criminal chapter in human history,” the CRC Chairman said regarding Prime Minister Rutte’s apology.