Introductory workshop on Prevention and Fight against Illicit Trafficking of Libyan Cultural Property

Tripoli, Museum of Libya, 27- 30 April 2013

Within the framework of a broader training programme funded by the Government of Italy, the workshop offered an important opportunity –for the first time after the new Libyan political course- to investigate the issues pertaining to the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural heritage.

Co-organized by UNESCO and the Department of Antiquities of Libya, the workshop aimed at fostering national and international networking and action against illicit trafficking of Libyan cultural property, as well as at exploring critical threats and challenges underpinning the enforcement of an efficient protection system in Libya. In addition, it adopted a set of recommendations which offer a shared road map for short- and medium-term action, preparing for sectorial technical tailored training and to guide, in particular, the creation of a heritage police.

More than 70 participants belonged to different public institutions such as border patrol, customs and tourist and antiquities police, criminal investigation departments, Libyan INTERPOL, as well as civil society associations. In addition, representatives of the General National Congress, the Ministry of Defense, and Libyan university researchers and archaeology professors also took part in the workshop.

INTERPOL, the World Customs Organization, UNIDROIT and the Carabinieri participated as the key institutional partners and facilitators, as well as representatives of three international archaeological missions in Libya.

The meeting allowed to strengthen the relationship between the different national police forces, the INTERPOL National Central Office and the Department of Antiquities.

The recommendations for the action plan target training and awareness-raising, a dedicated specialized unit, the enforcement of a robust legal framework, the upgrading of storage and security standards, the enhanced identification and traceability of cultural objects through the setting-up of centralized databases and systematic inventories, as well as setting-up a coordination and intra-stakeholders information sharing mechanism.

On the occasion of the workshop, a temporary exhibition displayed some retrieved works of art from museums and archaeological sites, such as the Roman head of Flavia Domitilla Minor, stolen from Sabratha in 1990, then surfaced at Christie’s in London, and returned to Libya by the Italian Prime Minister Prof. Mario Monti, during his official visit to Tripoli on 21 January 2012.

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