Friday 18 April 2014

Syria: UK exporters told they could be breaking law by handling looted artefacts

Martin Bailey, 'Warning over of Syrian loot: UK exporters told they could be breaking law by handling  looted artefacts', the Art Newspaper 18 April 2014

In a letter to the trade sent last month, The Arts Council in England has warned UK exporters about the legality of handling Syrian antiquities.  Dealers are reminded that:
new European Union regulations outlaw “the import, export or transfer of Syrian cultural property... where there are reasonable grounds to suspect that [objects] have been removed [from the country] illegally”. The initiative is particularly aimed at safeguarding items from Syrian museums, archives, libraries and religious institutions. It does not affect items which came out of Syria before May 2011. The regulations represent part of the European sanctions against Syria’s Assad government.
There is also the small matter of the UK having also specific legislation (Dealing in Cultural Objects (Offences) Act 2003) over a decade old now, and totally ignored, it would seem from this text, by the Arts Council.  

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