THE IMPORTANCE OF PROTECTING CULTURAL HERITAGE: CRIMINAL PROFILES
Cultural heritage contributes to forming the identity of a nation and destruction caused to archaeological, historical and artistic heritage can permanently damage the latter, not only from an economic point of view, but for the great loss that may be suffered from a historical and cultural point of view.
Italy was the first country in the world to have a police department specifically aimed at combating crime related to cultural heritage, this example has also been extended to other European nations due to the rise of criminality and the formation of groups resembling genuine commercial enterprises whose main goal is to make a profit.
The protection of historical and artistic heritage, is provided by two legislative means.
• A customs related procedure on the export of cultural heritage objects which in addition to the national protection, which is different for each member country and joint protection at the external borders of the European Economic Community.
• A directive on the restitution of cultural heritage objects unlawfully removed from a Member State of the European Union, which allows each Member State to claim the ownership of the works removed in violation of the law of the country of origin.
There are four main categories of criminals who operate within organizations involved in the smuggling of cultural heritage objects: thieves (who generally act on assignment), the receivers of stolen goods, smugglers and money launderers, all experts in fields such as archeology, art , paintings, antiques, silverware, ecclesiastical and bibliographical material, etc. .. daily involved in the plundering of the historical-artistic patrimony of a nation, stealing cultural heritage objects from the home and international markets and directing them through illegal trade channels.
In order for each stolen piece, to be introduced onto the market it must be "cleaned up" so as to make it more difficult to identify, the merchandise is modified by art restorers experienced in some of the most specific methods , and then returned to the receivers of stolen goods and smugglers, that after producing false certificates, sell the merchandise in keeping with the trends and preferences of the illegal art market. To export the goods a wide variety of methods and channels are used, such as international transport companies, recreational craft , refrigerated trucks, or even international trains.
To avoid recognition, the works of art in most cases are offered for sale through the use of auctioneers or antique stores, far away from where they have been illegally removed and then certified in order to make them seem legally suitable to be sold, thus avoiding superficial customs and security controls.
Archaeological findings, stolen in Italy, mainly pass through Switzerland, Germany and Austria to reach, in most cases, Britain, then to be sent on to other destinations around the world. Paintings, however, generally pass through Switzerland, France and Belgium in order to reach the U.K. through the major auction houses, holding the worldwide market for works of art.
Technological progress has no doubt contributed to the evolution of this type of organized crime. The inappropriate use of the Internet within the market for cultural heritage objects has contributed to the transformation of the traditional dynamics of trade. Legitimate commercial transactions, have been greatly affected by the illegal art market, mostly due to the fact that some private art lovers are prepared to go to great lengths to come into possession of priceless artifacts, not otherwise acquirable in a lawful way. Avv. Donatella Sicomo#culturalheritage #historical
and artistic heritage #smugglers #archeology #moneylaunderers#paintings #antiques #silverware #ecclesiastical
# plundering #illegaltradechannels
# illegalartmarket #internet