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01 February 2013

INTERPOL calls on international support for the preservation of cultural heritage in Mali

LYON, France - The current situation in Mali is having a significant impact on its cultural heritage, which constitutes an important part of mankind’s history. Mausoleums, tombs, sacred and historic sites, as well as archives and libraries in Timbuktu containing precious historic manuscripts, have been particularly vulnerable to destruction, damage, theft and looting during this period of turmoil.

INTERPOL therefore joins UNESCO’s call for help to preserve Mali’s cultural heritage and will provide all possible assistance and support with the assessment of the damages suffered. INTERPOL reiterates the international warning to the considerable threats to which Mali’s cultural heritage is currently exposed, and calls for strong cooperation among international partner organizations for a coordinated response to this menace.

INTERPOL has already alerted its 190 member countries for increased vigilance to the risk of illicit trafficking in cultural goods from Mali and neighbouring countries. Relevant national authorities, including border police and customs services, are invited to include this consideration in their risk assessment when conducting import control operations.

In this respect, INTERPOL will include relevant and available information in its stolen works of art database as a matter of priority to facilitate the potential identification and recovery of stolen Malian artefacts.

Any useful information concerning this matter can be sent directly to the Stolen Works of Art unit at the INTERPOL General Secretariat.