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School of Law

Protecting Cultural Property from Plunder - Criminal Justice Efforts to Curb the Market


Throughout the ages wars have torn apart national art collections, monuments and archaeological sites and scattered plundered objects across the globe. Many looted items were consequently trafficked to western nations, in particular Europe and the United States of America. While global awareness of the impact of looting on communities in vulnerable nations existed since the end of the 1960s, and was manifest in the 1970 UNESCO Convention, prosecutions of facilitators in market countries have been extremely rare. Crimes connected to looting range from import, export and tax offences to fraud, theft and fencing. This seminar gave an overview of such crimes and the difficulties of their prosecution in market nations, in particular in the United Kingdom (England and Wales) and Germany. Prominent cases were discussed to illustrate how criminal justice systems could provide a significant contribution to curbing the illicit trade.

Speaker Profile

Saskia Hufnagel is a Reader in Criminal Law at Queen Mary University London. She previously worked as a Research Fellow at the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Policing and Security (CEPS), Griffith University, Australia, and was a Leverhulme Fellow at the University of Leeds. Her main research areas encompass law enforcement cooperation in Asia, North America, the EU and Australasia, comparative constitutional and human rights law with a focus on terrorism legislation and the policing of art crime. She has widely published on national and international police cooperation, constitutional law and cultural property crime. Her latest publications include 'Policing Global Regions' (Routledge, 2021), 'Anti-Money Laundering Legislation and the Art Market' (with Colin King) (2019) 40(1) Legal Studies 131-150, and she co-edited 'The Palgrave Handbook of Art Crime' with Duncan Chappell (Palgrave Macmillan 2019). Dr Hufnagel is a qualified German legal professional and accredited specialist in criminal law.

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