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In Today’s News: EU to take on trade in stolen antiquities

November 20, 2015

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of the Site Unseen: Safeguarding MENA Heritage at Kensington Library as part of the Nour Festival. At that event, Dr Sam Hardy, who maintains the excellent Conflict Antiquities blog, spoke about the trade in stolen antiquities, and Rosie Garthwaite of production company Mediadante spoke of the importance of stigmatising ownership of stolen cultural property. Today, in response to recent global events (but most particularly the Paris attacks last weekend), the Council of the EU held an extraordinary meeting on counter-terrorism. Acknowledging that stolen antiquities constitute a source of revenue for terrorist groups in the Middle East and North Africa, the Conclusions of the Council published today state, under point 8 – Financing of Terrorism:

8. The Council
a) invites the Commission to present proposals to strengthen, harmonise and improve the powers of, and the cooperation between Financial Intelligence Units (FIU’s), notably through the proper embedment of the network for information exchange in Europol, and ensure their fast access to necessary information, in order to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing in conformity with Financial Action Task Force (FATF) recommendations, to strengthen controls of non-banking payment methods such as electronic/anonymous payments, money remittances, cash-carriers, virtual currencies, transfers of gold or precious metals and pre-paid cards in line with the risk they present and to curb more effectively the illicit trade in cultural goods

(my emphasis)

Quite what this will mean in terms of enforcement remains to be seen, but it is a welcome commitment.

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