Friday, November 23, 2007

Switzerland and "illicit" cultural property

Simon Bradley has reported on the Swiss concern over the handling of Peruvian antiquities ("Red alert goes out for stolen treasures", Swissinfo.ch, November 23, 2007). ICOM and the Swiss Federal Cultural Office have created a "red list" and acknowledged "irreparable loss" to Peruvian archaeological contexts. The report notes:
Switzerland is among the world's five biggest trade hubs for art objects. It was known as a transit point for stolen artefacts before it introduced legislation in 2005 that brought it into line with a United Nations convention against trafficking in illicit goods.

Yves Fischer, at the Swiss Culture Office, commented on the Swiss role in the movement of "illicit" antiquities:
Switzerland made a clear statement that these kind of activities are no longer accepted here. The new measures have a preventive and repressive impact.

It is not yet clear how effective the Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property (CPTA) (2005) has been.

Many of the antiquities being returned to Italy from North America had passed through Switzerland (prior to 2005). So the 2006 agreement between Switzerland and Italy was an important move ("Deal signed against traffic of illicit goods", October 21, 2006). But is this Swiss act making a difference to the international trade in antiquities?


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