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Saturday, March 31, 2018

AUSA Calls Baltimore Test Case "A Numismatic Fantasy"

AUSA Molissa Farber
"It's not a case about coins that the Guild wants. This is a case about regulations that the Guild doesn't want." That's how Assistant United States Attorney Molissa Farber characterized the Ancient Coin Collectors Guild's (ACCG) latest argument before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in the Baltimore test case.

Both the ACCG and federal government offered oral arguments to the appeals court on March 22, marking the case's ninth year winding through the court system.

Listen to the arguments presented in U.S. v. Three Knife-Shaped Coins et al. here. Attorney Peter Tompa argued for the Guild, and Attorney Farber for the government.

The test case started in 2009 when the ACCG imported unprovenanced Cypriot and Chinese ancient coins from a dealer in London. AUSA Farber told the court of appeals that "the Guild wanted to bring this case to pursue a numismatic fantasy of bringing down the CPIA's regulations on ancient coins."

The CPIA is the Cultural Property Implementation Act, the federal law that authorizes import controls safeguarding at-risk archaeological and ethnological objects originating in foreign nations that have signed bilateral agreements with the United States. Both Cyprus and China have such agreements.

AUSA Farber explained to the appeals court that the statutory purpose of the CPIA is "to prevent the importation of looted goods."

But the ACCG complained that the application of the CPIA violates its Fifth Amendment due process property rights, insisting that the government--not the importer--bears the burden to prove that ancient coins were first discovered in or were subject to export control of a State Party to the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property. According to the Guild, federal authorities must satisfy this burden of proof before officials can seize and forfeit at-risk ancient coins under the CPIA's authority.

Farber countered this proposition. "As the district court observed,  looted goods are very unlikely to come with documentation as to their date of export. And ... if you put that burden on the government to show date of export you're allowing looted goods into the United States, which is contrary to the purpose of the statute." She pointed out that the CPIA statute mandates that the importer prove the date of export when that date is not known.

Thus far, the ACCG's many court actions have solidified, rather than weakened, the CPIA's capacity to prevent looted ancient coins from entering America's stream of commerce.
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Text and original photos copyrighted 2010-2018 by Cultural Heritage Lawyer, a blog commenting on matters of cultural property law, art law, cultural heritage policy, antiquities trafficking, museum risk management, and archaeology. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission without the express written consent of CHL is strictly prohibited. The materials presented on this site are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice applicable to the reader’s specific situation. In addition, the provision of this information to the reader in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

[VIDEO] A First: Police Make Antiquities Trafficking Arrests in Terrorist Financing Case

Police have arrested two men in Barcelona, Spain for their alleged role in financing ISIS terrorism by acquiring and selling blood antiquities.

Georgi Kantchev of The Wall Street Journal reported that "Spanish police are holding two men suspected of trading in antiquities looted by groups linked to Islamic State, the first publicly announced detentions by Western authorities working to dismantle the terrorist group’s trade in plundered art."

The Ministerio del Interior issued a statement explaining that the men, both Spanish nationals and antiquities experts, were detained on crimes of terrorist financing, belonging to a criminal organization, receiving stolen property, smuggling, and falsification of documents.

Video courtesy of Policia Nacional, Ministerio del Interior, Government of Spain.

"The detainees were part of a network based in Catalonia and international branches dedicated to the acquisition and sale of works of historical-archaeological value from territories that were under siege from groups related to the organization, DAESH," the ministry revealed. DAESH is the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

Authorities raided locations in Barcelona and Argentona, including a conservation laboratory, warehouse, and art gallery. Cultural heritage material seized included mosaics, sarcophagi and Egyptian artifacts. Some of the objects originated from the Libyan region of Cyrenaica, which ISIS controlled from 2011 through 2016.

"Since the end of 2014, the main detainee and expert in ancient art, had woven a network of suppliers around the world that allowed access to archaeological pieces of various civilizations," the ministry alleged, adding that officials first detected the operation in October 2016 after noticing improprieties in import records.

The interior ministry reported that some of the objects "showed imperfections, bumps and marks that indicated violent extraction of the subsoil, without the use of adequate archaeological techniques," pointing out that the suspects "were responsible for a restoration process that would erase these signs as far as possible."

Text and original photos copyrighted 2010-2018 by Cultural Heritage Lawyer, a blog commenting on matters of cultural property law, art law, cultural heritage policy, antiquities trafficking, museum risk management, and archaeology. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission without the express written consent of CHL is strictly prohibited. The materials presented on this site are intended for informational purposes only and should not be used as legal advice applicable to the reader’s specific situation. In addition, the provision of this information to the reader in no way constitutes an attorney-client relationship.

Monday, March 5, 2018

How to Secure an Archaeological Site: ASIS Releases New Case Study on Clunia

https://www.asisonline.org/globalassets/foundation/documents/crisp-reports/archaeological-clunia_crisp-report.pdf
Click on the pic and read the ASIS CRISP Report.
Protecting heritage during times of war is a topic that receives significant attention. Just read about last October's Preserving Cultural Heritage in Times of Conflict conference at Colgate University, or Sam Hardy's recent article about "Curbing the Spoils of War," or Neil Brodie's and Isber Sabrine's new publication titled "The Illegal Excavation and Trade of Syrian Cultural Objects: A View from the Ground."

Make no mistake, this issue deserves a spotlight because violent conflict creates fresh opportunities to sharply increase the trafficking of cultural heritage objects ravaged from archaeological sites.

But what about protecting archaeological sites during times of peace? Filling the gap to tackle this important subject are ASIS Cultural Properties Council members and security experts James Clark, Ricardo Sanz Marcos, and Robert Carotenuto. Their peer-reviewed CRISP Report (Connecting Research In Security to Practice) on the Archaeological Site of Colonia Clunia Sulpicia presents a case study for a security plan in a non-conflict region. It should be required reading for all archaeologists, preservationists, security professionals, and others responsible for keeping cultural heritage locations secure.

A copy of the report is available on ASIS International's web site here.

The three authors--hailing from Clark Security Group, Proarpa (Protección de Activos y Patrimonio), and the New York Botanical Garden, respectively--investigated the challenges and pressures faced by a site located in Peñalba de Castro, Spain, describing Clunia as "the most representative of all of the archaeological ruins that have been found from the Roman period in the Northern Iberian Peninsula." It is home to a Roman forum, mosaics, statues, and an amphitheater.

The ASIS Cultural Properties Council team conducted their survey and risk assessment with critical help from local stakeholders. They examined "the culture of the site, the site’s vulnerability to looting and various natural and man-made hazards, the local legal requirements that impact the development of a security plan, [and] the available resources to support a new security plan."

Their conclusions and suggestions employ a broad-based and integrated security model whose features could apply (with site-specific refinements) to other archaeological sites around the globe.

Based on their review of the threats and vulnerabilities to Clunia, the authors recommended the following for Clunia:
[T]he security model must be holistic and maintain a primary mission of delay, deterrence, detection, and prevention of incursions onto the site. The first step is to get the community on board with a sense of ownership. The second step is to provide policies and practices that complement the technology in place and the presence of security officers. The next step is to provide the security officers with tools and technology that optimize their presence on-site and allow them to know when someone is attempting to access the site, either before or when it happens.
The authors' specific recommendations and the costs of investment and maintenance are outlined in the CRISP Report.

ASIS is a global association of 35,000 private security professionals, including those who work with cultural and religious institutions. CHL's author is a member of the Cultural Properties Council.

Text and original photos copyrighted 2010-2018 by Cultural Heritage Lawyer, a blog commenting on matters of cultural property law, art law, cultural heritage policy, antiquities trafficking, museum risk management, and archaeology. Blog url: culturalheritagelawyer.blogspot.com. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission without the express written consent of CHL is strictly prohibited.