Law enforcement agencies to be trained on combating crimes against Works of Art and Cultural heritage in Southern Africa

UNESCO in collaboration with Interpol Regional Bureau for Southern Africa are organising a training to strengthen the capacity of the law enforcement agencies to combat crimes against Works of Art and Cultural heritage in Southern Africa. The two day virtual training is scheduled for 20 and 21 July 2021 with several expert trainers from UNESCO, Interpol, Unidroit and International Council of Museums (ICOM).

The training workshop seeks to strengthen the efforts of the law enforcement agencies in Southern Africa to prevent Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property and generate measures to prohibit and prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property. This training will provide an opportunity to learn about the current context of illicit trafficking of cultural property in the Africa region, and strengthen synergies for the protection of cultural property in the Southern Africa region.

The training will also track the progress in the operationalisation of the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) on the Works of Art that were adopted by SADC Chiefs of Police at their Annual General Meeting held from 3 to 6 June 2019 in Lusaka, Zambia. The adoption of the SOPs laid a strong basis for the follow up in terms of creating where they do not exist yet (and strengthening where they exist), specialised police units at national level. The Units that are exclusively dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage to investigate cases of trafficking of cultural property, with a national (de) centralised database(s) connected with Interpol’s “Stolen Works of Art Database”.

The main objectives of the meeting include:

Encourage the strengthening of specialised units and national databases;
Information sharing among Law Enforcement Agencies and Stakeholders;
Understand the impact of crimes against Works of Art and Cultural Heritage;
Enhance knowledge and skills of police officers dealing with crimes against Works of Art and Cultural Heritage;
Enhance collaboration and cooperation amongst line Ministries and stakeholders in fighting the scourge; and
Understanding Legal Frameworks pertaining to Works of Art and Cultural Heritage.
Police Officers dealing with Works of Art and Cultural Heritage from the 16 SADC/SARPCO Member States and Officers from Line Ministries/ Departments/National Museums (dealing with Works of Arts and Cultural Heritage in Member Countries) will participate in the workshop.

UNESCO’s work on the protection of cultural heritage and UNIDROIT’s work to facilitate the return of stolen or illegally exported cultural property support the achievement of SDG 16, and in particular target 4, which addresses the recovery and return of stolen assets and combatting all forms of organized crime. Such work also supports SDG 4 target 7 on the importance of education to acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to fight illicit traffic (importance of the UNIDROIT Convention Academic Project – UCAP). UNESCO and UNIDROIT’s instruments also support the African Union vision adopted by African Heads of States, and in particular Aspiration 5 “An Africa with a strong cultural identity, common heritage, shared values and ethics”.

 

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