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News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Thurs. Dec. 22, 2022: Chairman of the CARICOM Reparations Commission and Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, has chided the Dutch prime minister for not seeking the organized input and support of the Caribbean prior to his public apology for the country’s role in African enslavement.

While Sir Hilary lauded Prime Minister Mark Rutte for his December 19, 2022, formal apology, he noted that the prime minister did not bring to the table those who are the survivors of the crimes that the reparatory justice movement has moved into a new phase.

“It has been near a decade since the governments of CARICOM established a Reparations Commission to promote regional and global understanding of the enslavement of African people and native genocide with the objective of securing reparatory justice and development for the still suffering people of the Caribbean,” the CARICOM Reparations chair noted. “Historic though it is, the statement is flawed on the basis that the Prime Minister did not seek the organized input and support of the Caribbean. The unilateralism of the apology and acknowledgments must now move to a multilateral basis.”

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte addresses a speech on the Netherlands’ involvement in slavery, in the National Archives in The Hague, on December 19, 2022. – Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on December 19, 2022, officially apologised for 250 years of the Netherlands’ involvement in slavery, calling it a crime against humanity. – Netherlands. (Photo by ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/ANP/AFP via Getty Images)

He noted that the CARICOM Reparations Commission looks forward to the next step, “which 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.”

As background, Sir Hilary noted that The Dutch State was Europe’s pioneer of the global slavery enterprise.

“For most of the 17th century it monopolized the transatlantic slave trade and provided the finance and technology that enabled the English, French, Spanish and Portuguese to establish their own slave-based empires,” he said. “As a result, Amsterdam became the financial center of Europe and the leading supplier globally of capital for colonization. The national enrichment from African enslavement was large and unprecedented. The Dutch community, with the slavery wealth derived from human enslavement, and crimes against humanity, became a sustained developed nation. It continues to be an imperial nation holding Caribbean people impoverished in colonial bondage.”

Sir Hilary is the 8th Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies (The UWI) and is a distinguished academic, international thought leader, United Nations committee official, and global public activist in the field of social justice and minority empowerment.

Among the many leadership roles, he currently holds, in 2013 Sir Hilary was selected by the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to be the inaugural Chair of the CARICOM Reparations Commission.

The CARICOM Reparations Commission is a regional body created to establish the moral, ethical and legal case for the payment of reparations by the Governments of all the former colonial powers and the relevant institutions of those countries, to the nations and people of the Caribbean Community for the Crimes against Humanity of Native Genocide, the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and a racialized system of chattel Slavery.

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