UNESCO, in collaboration with the Interpol Regional Bureau for Southern Africa, will train law enforcement agencies to combat crimes against works of art and cultural heritage in Southern Africa.
The two day virtual training is scheduled for July 20 and 21, with several expert trainers from UNESCO, Interpol, UNIDROIT and the International Council of Museums (ICOM) leading the workshop.
The workshop seeks to strengthen law enforcement agencies in Southern Africa to prevent the illicit importation, exportation and transfer of ownership of cultural property; and generate measures to prevent the illicit trafficking of cultural property.
The training will also track the progress in the operationalisation of the standard operating procedures on works of art that were adopted by SADC Chiefs of Police at their AGM in 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.
Units that are exclusively dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage to investigate cases of trafficking of cultural property, with national databases 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 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 organised 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.
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”. – UNESCO