"Zwarte Piet" — or "Black Pete", as the faithful assistant to Saint Nicolas is known in the Netherlands – is once again the focus of controversy because of his role and his skin colour, explains Dutch daily De Volkskrant. Santa Claus is derived from Saint Nicholas.

Verene Shepherd, who chairs the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, says that she considers the character of Zwarte Piet – a white person in blackface dressed as a 15th-century pageboy – provides an image of Blacks derived from the colonial period.

The working group is scheduled to present a report on the issue to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, says the paper, which could lead to "a recommendation that the Netherlands stop celebrating the feast of Saint Nicholas".