Concrete steps after apologies for the slavery past

A low-threshold subsidy scheme for social initiatives. Free of charge name change for descendants of enslaved people in both the European and Caribbean Netherlands. Extra attention to combating discrimination and racism. Investing in cultural heritage. And increasing knowledge about the impact of the slavery past. These are some of the concrete follow-up steps taken by the government since the Government's apology for the slavery past. The implementation of the space after 'the comma', is made through a careful process with great active involvement of descendants. This can be read in the progress letter on the slavery past program that the government sent to Parliament today.

Subsidy scheme based on dialogue
In order to actively involve descendants and other stakeholders in all phases of the process, meetings have been held in the past six months on Sint Maarten and in The Hague, among other places.

During dialogue sessions in the European Netherlands, 270 descendants were interviewed throughout the country and online, about commemorating the slavery past and on their ideas for social initiatives. The results of the dialogue sessions have been compiled in a final report.

The results of the dialogue sessions were also included in the drafting of the draft subsidy scheme for social initiatives for the European Netherlands. This scheme must be easily accessible to grassroots organizations, so that they do not get bogged down in complicated application processes.

The survey strongly showed that people think it is important that money should be spend on social initiatives that offer solutions to structural inequality. A one-off budget of €100 million has been made available for the subsidy scheme. The amount is divided into three parts: €33.3 million for the European Netherlands, €33.3 million for the Caribbean part of the Kingdom, and €33.3 million for Suriname.

The consultation on this subsidy scheme for both the European Dutch and Caribbean parts of the Kingdom has been completed. The first applications can be submitted this autumn.

Name change, investigation into the impact of slavery past and combating discrimination
The government is making an additional €100 million available for other measures aimed at raising awareness and recognition, knowledge and impact, and coming to terms with the slavery past. These resources are also geographically equally distributed between the three areas.

€14.9 million will be set aside for the temporary scheme that will allow descendants to have their surnames changed free of charge as of July 1st 2024. The aim is that this will also be possible for descendants living on Bonaire, Saba and St. Eustatius as of January 1, 2025. On 19 December 2022, the government announced that it would step up its efforts to combat discrimination and racism. €1.7 million will be made available to intensify broad public communication on combating discrimination and racism.

It also increases the findability and visibility of anti-discrimination services. Based on available data, knowledge and research, an attempt is being made to gain a better understanding of how the impact of the slavery past leads to discrimination and racism in today's society. The government is making €3.8 million available for this research. In addition, through the Slavery History Learning Network, municipalities are helped to give substance to the impact of the slavery past in their own local context. This involves €1.1 million.

In addition, there will be a multi-year research program into the complex impact of the slavery past in the present (€1.7 million).

The National Slavery Museum, which is to be established, will receive €3 million for a knowledge center, to strengthen its kingdom-wide and international knowledge and network function and to enable digital access to the museum.

An additional €4.5 million is available for investing in the preservation and further development of museums, archives and the protection of cultural heritage.

The effects of slavery also have effects on the (mental) health and well-being of descendants. This is evident from conversations with descendants. The government is making €1.7 million available for interventions to counteract adverse health effects. Pupils in primary and secondary education are already learning about the history of slavery and this will also get place in the new curriculum.

In addition, the government is initiating actions to bring the slavery past back more strongly in primary and secondary education (€0.8 million). For the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom, so-called ‘recovery agendas’ are being drawn up by the islands. These will be based on priorities per country and the commitments already made by the Dutch government. Examples of these commitments include the rehabilitation of Tula, digital access to archives and updating teaching methods for education. Suriname intends to set up a platform in which a number of representatives from the most involved groups will have a seat, in order to conduct a targeted dialogue about the use of the available funds.

Commemorative Year and Commemoration Committee
In the Commemorative Year (which runs from 1 July 2023 to 1 July 2024), 200 projects have already been supported in the European Netherlands and the Caribbean part of the Kingdom. This includes visual arts projects, heritage, performing arts and literature, but also podcasts, dialogues, safe space sessions, workshops, commemorations and celebrations.

There is still € 1.6 million left for projects from the Cultural Participation Fund. Initiators can still submit applications for this. The fund has appointed scouts to support initiators in the Caribbean part of the Kingdom in submitting project applications.

The Slavery Remembrance Year ends on July 1st 2024, but the commemoration and attention for the slavery past will remain. In the coming period, the government will continue the dialogue with NiNsee and other organizations involved in commemoration in the Kingdom and Suriname in order to establish a Dutch Slavery Remembrance Committee. The government has made € 8 million a year available for this. The government’s aim is to be able to present the terms of reference to the Committee and the Chair before July 1st 2024. The Committee will be operational at the latest by autumn.