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Preventing and countering terrorist financing

αναρτήθηκε στις 9 Οκτ 2015, 12:41 π.μ. από το χρήστη ΝΙΚΟΣ ΤΟΡΝΑΡΙΤΗΣ

“Challenges posed by a preventative criminal justice response to terrorism and to Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTF)”

Joint UNODC/PAM Regional workshop

Bucharest, 8-9 October 2015

 

Session 3: “Preventing and countering terrorist financing”

(Contribution by Mr. Nicos Tornaritis, MP, Cyprus)

 

Dear Colleagues,

 

       The painful images of the destruction of Palmyra in Syria and of Hatra and Nimrund in Iraq were a stark reminder that Da’esh has a two-fold aim: On the one hand, they are convinced through their perverse ideology that they must uproot the cultural and ethnological connection of the local populations from their land. And on the other hand, the trafficking of cultural and religious artefacts is one of the top 3 financing activities of Da’esh.

 

Unfortunately, the connection between terrorist financing and the illicit trafficking of cultural artefacts has not been analyzed adequately. I would like to focus my intervention on this issue, taking into consideration recent events in Iraq and Syria.

 

There is indeed a legal framework against the looting and illegal trafficking of cultural heritage, ranging from UN Security Council Resolutions like 2199, to international conventions, to European Union Directives and bilateral agreements.

 

Nonetheless, the prevention of the sale of such artefacts from organized crime networks and very importantly, the return of such artefacts to their lawful owners, are arduous tasks. Much more needs to be done.

 

Building on the many lessons we have learned, also at the national level, I would like to underline the importance of 2 key issues –

 

First : It is extremely important for the sale of cultural objects on the internet to be strictly regulated on an international basis. For example, internet auction houses and private collectors should be required to submit a list of past and present auctions or possessors of the specific object to be auctioned online and to retain such lists for an adequate period of time before and after the auction. This is anyway the practice for regular auction houses in many countries.

 

Secondly, and very crucially : One of the main obstacles encountered in securing the restitution of illicitly exported cultural property is the proof of identification by the claimant country. From our experiences we see that in some cases, objects that have been illicitly exported from Cyprus had not been inventoried or adequately documented. Therefore, it is difficult to prove their provenance in court, especially considering that in some countries the legislation provides that the burden of proof on the provenance of an object is on the claimant country.

 

On this point, I would like to underline that it would be very critical for the burden of proof not to fall primarily to the state, for example Iraq or Syria for (a) the blocking of auctioning suspicious objects and (b) the restitution of artefacts.

 

At the same time, we need perhaps a new legal framework and a new international paradigm through which purchases by collectors of artefacts originating from conflict zones are not considered “bona fide”, therefore eliminating the excuse of “I didn’t know” from collectors who buy looted artefacts.

 

This is an idea that the Cypriot Foreign Minister, Mr.Kasoulides, and our government has floated in recent conferences and I strongly believe that it merits our practical support.

 

In this vein, we need to go a step beyond the UNSC Resolution 1483 (2003) that called for the prohibition of trade and transfer of Iraqi artefacts to which reasonable suspicion exists that they had been illegally removed. We need a robust UNSC Resolution that would apply universal limitations on the trade and transfer of artefacts originating from all conflict zones, with the obligation of proof of legitimate trade resting upon the traders, auction houses and buyers and not on the originating state.

 

Cyprus has always been extremely sensitive on the issue of protection of cultural heritage, acknowledging that antiquities and other historical and cultural items constitute a link of people to their shared past and a contributor to social cohesion, unity and progress. Unfortunately, the uncontrolled situation in the Turkish-occupied area of Cyprus after the Turkish invasion in 1974 has fostered the development of a network of dealers in illicit antiquities bringing great profit to the looters. Antiquities and other cultural artefacts that rested in museums, archeological sites, churches and private collections in the occupied area have been stolen and traced in Europe’s illegal antiquities trade markets and in auctions around the world.

 

 

Stressing once again the imperative to efficiently address the issue of scourge of terrorism by eliminating its funding stream, we, once again reiterate Cyprus’ determination and will to enhance its cooperation with the international community, in all levels and avail all competent national instruments to the service of our common cause.

 

Thank you for your attention.

 

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