STOP Cultural genocide !

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14th November 2020 was the first International Day against Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property. It was also the 50th anniversary of the UNESCO Convention (1970) urging States Parties to take measures to prohibit and prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property.

            As a result of a constant lack of priorisation of this issue, the lack of support dedicated to it by most states remains sadly obvious, as highlighted by the EU Commission reports (Illicit trade in cultural goods in Europe, 2019).  Since the adoption of European regulations over the last decade, traffic has never been so prolific.

            This allows international criminal and terrorist groups to operate with impunity and to execute their totalitarian project that involves erasing History, while earning money by selling the property of looted countries. Exactly as Daesh did in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and also in Africa and elsewhere. Stolen objects appear with false papers on the European market, characterized by a lack of transparency, lack of traceability and anonymity of the transaction, which is a perfect storm for the selling of stolen goods, in addition to money laundering and tax evasion.

We ask the leaders of the EU institutions to :

1- Act NOW to find a global and comprehensive solution to the problem of trafficking, in order to close the major gaps remaining in the European legislations which allow the laundering of stolen property of looted countries.

2- Regulate the art and antiques market, including on the internet, and force the seller to be more transparent about the provenance of objects. Every single declared art dealer in Europe must become at least as transparent as a bank and hold up-to-date records of transactions.

3- Fund projects for those who can help recover the stolen artefacts - the law enforcement community (police, customs, border guards, prosecutors) with the help of the scientific community and of the new digital tools available.

4- Monitor actively the free ports systems, which are used for tax evasion, storage and international movement of stolen objects.

5- Raise awareness among collectors on the infiltration of fake and stolen antiquities into the market. Buying fakes is a bad investment which can fund criminal and terrorist networks.