Saturday, 15 July 2017

Belgium is the "weak link" in the fight against trafficking in cultural property

Since December 2016, the "Arts and Antiquities" unit of the federal police has been dismantled, a decision endorsed by Interior Minister Jan Jambon. Since then, Belgium appears to be "the weak link in the policy against illicit trafficking in cultural property", deplored Edouard Planche, in charge of the anti-trafficking program at UNESCO, in the pages of Le Soir on Thursday. This unit was the only point of contact able to respond to requests from Interpol, foreign police and customs. Its closure at the time had alerted the International Criminal Police Organisation, which expressed its concern in a confidential letter to Prime Minister Charles Michel in September. For six months the bases of Interpol and Belgium, dealing with stolen works of art, are no longer provided and this is raising concern abroad. The federal police says that a "point of contact" for art traffic was however "recently restored."
Oscar Schneider, 'Belgium is the "weak link" in the fight against trafficking in cultural property', The Brussels Times 14 July 2017

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