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14 abril 2011

Meeting of INTERPOL's Experts Group on Stolen Cultural Property focuses on information sharing

LYON, France – The 8th meeting of the INTERPOL Experts Group on Stolen Cultural Property (5-6 April), organized by INTERPOL's Works of Art Unit, has discussed ways to assist countries protect their cultural heritage during crisis periods, including the current unrest across North Africa.

With the need to provide opportunities for capacity building high on the agenda, a key concern of the meeting at INTERPOL's General Secretariat headquarters in Lyon was the increasing production and dissemination of counterfeits, fakes and forgeries of cultural property and the sale of cultural property of illicit origin over the Internet.

In this respect the assembled experts acknowledged the important role of INTERPOL's database on stolen works of art and its public online access, and encouraged INTERPOL's 188 member countries to systematically provide information on stolen art to the General Secretariat.

On the sidelines of the meeting, INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin met the head of the Italian delegation, Brigadier General Pasquale Muggeo, Commander of the Italian Carabinieri's specialized Unit for the protection of cultural heritage, to discuss ways of facilitating the integration of data from member countries in INTERPOL's works of art database and to optimize search functions.

The Experts Group serves as an advisory body to INTERPOL's Works of Art programme. The meeting included representatives from specialized law enforcement units (France, Italy, Switzerland, USA), international organizations (International Council of Museums, UNESCO, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime), a curator from the British Museum and an expert in international legislation on the subject.

INTERPOL's database on stolen works of art contains almost 37,000 records to date, with access provided to some 22,000 users.

The INTERPOL Experts Group on Stolen Cultural Property meeting focussed on strategies to enhance international co-operation, information sharing and capacity building. Experts Group member Brigadier General Pasquale Muggeo of the Italian Carabinieri (right, picture two) met INTERPOL Executive Director of Police Services Jean-Michel Louboutin (centre) and Assistant Director Gianni Baldi.