Dutch central bank apologises for historic links to slave trade

De Nederlandsche Bank announces a series of measures aimed at reducing ‘negative effects of 19th-century slavery’.

President of the Dutch Central Bank Klaas Knot speaks
Klaas Knot speaks at the Group of 20 high-level seminar in Japan [File: Kiyoshi Ota/Pool Photo via AP]

The Dutch central bank chief has apologised for the institution’s involvement in the 19th-century slave trade, the latest expression of contrition in the Netherlands linked to the country’s historic role in the trade in enslaved people.

The apology came on Friday at an event on the country’s national day marking the Dutch abolishment of slavery and followed similar moves in recent years from municipal authorities in the main Dutch cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht.

De Nederlandsche Bank has acknowledged that it was involved in the transatlantic slave trade between 1814 and 1863 and even paid compensation to plantation owners when the Netherlands abolished slavery, including to members of the central bank’s board at the time.

Klaas Knot, the president of the bank, told a gathering in Amsterdam: “Today, on behalf of De Nederlandsche Bank, I apologise for these reprehensible facts.”

“I apologise to all those who, because of the personal choices of many, including my predecessors, were reduced to the colour of their skin,” he said.

The bank announced a series of measures including boosting diversity and inclusiveness in its ranks and setting up a five-million-euro ($5.2m) fund for projects aimed at reducing “contemporary negative effects of nineteenth-century slavery”.

Knot’s apology came exactly a year after Amsterdam Mayor Femke Halsema apologised for the Dutch capital’s role in the slave trade.

In April, Dutch bank ABN AMRO also apologised for historic links to slavery in the 18th and 19th centuries.

Source: News Agencies