As part of its ongoing multi-year programme to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property, the OSCE Transnational Threats Department implemented the third in a series of regional interactive workshops on combatting illicit trafficking of art, antiquities and cultural property in Pula, Croatia from 11 to 15 September. The training course was held for law enforcement, border management officers, and museum experts from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Ukraine.
Police, border security and customs officers, intelligence analysts, financial investigators and ministry of culture representatives received hands-on investigative skills training, notably through the use of scenario-based, simulation training exercises. These include the use of fictitious art crimes and trafficking cases to highlight the latest investigative technologies and tools, building cross-border partnerships to tackle this growing area of crime. Expert trainers of the OSCE-led Heritage Crime Task Force also touched upon forensic crime scene investigation at museums and archeological sites, delivered training on how to appropriately handle art, artifacts and historical documents, tools and methods to conduct dark net/black market investigations, disrupt money-laundering networks and ultimately, put together cases that could be brought towards successful prosecution.
“These regional trainings are strengthening the capacity of participating States to preserve human history and tackle the trafficking networks and their linkages to cross-border organized crime and terrorist financing, and money laundering networks,” said Cameron Walter, Customs Adviser and Programme Manager of the OSCE Heritage Crime Task Force.
This workshop also provided a critical forum for real-time exchange between experts related to trafficking of cultural heritage items in the context of the war in Ukraine, discussions on local/regional investigations, and potential options to assist Morocco, OSCE Partner for Co-operation, in protecting its cultural heritage at sites damaged by this week’s earthquakes.
“The OSCE is all about positive impact. For too long, the issue of cultural property trafficking has been a story of criminal organizations and opportunists exploiting the collections of human history, progress, art and tangible cultural heritage for criminal gain, or funding downstream criminal activities that impact the security of communities across the OSCE area and beyond. Instead, the OSCE is assisting participating States to turn this into a story about the positive impact of collaboration, and the dedication of international law enforcement experts, national art crime teams, and the museum community to directly confront this transnational threat,” Walter concluded.
The workshop was delivered in close partnership with the experts of the OSCE Heritage Crime Task Force which includes: the U.S. Department of Homeland Security Investigations, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Spain's Guardia Civil, Italy’s Arma dei Carabinieri, Finland’s TULLI (Customs), France’s Douanes et Droits Indirects (Customs) and France’s Armée de Terre, the International Council of Museums (ICOM), Blue Shield International, Cranfield University Forensic Training Institute, the Victoria and Albert Museum and other subject specialists.