In November 2023, BSI accompanied an OSCE Heritage Crime Task Force (HCTF) delegation to Istanbul and Gaziantep, Türkiye, to consult with Turkish Law Enforcement, Border, Customs, and Heritage officials on illicit trafficking of cultural property and future cooperation with the HCTF in developing a robust network to combat trafficking in the OSCE area of concern.
Following a planning retreat held by OSCE in Ireland in November, the Secretariat attended Phase III of the OSCE Heritage Crime Task Force program in Vienna (11-15 Dec). The programme aims to combat trafficking of cultural property and enhance cross-border cooperation to tackle organized criminal and terrorist networks profiting from this growing area of crime. Alongside Blue Shield, it was attended by frontline officers, art crime and counter trafficking experts from Austria, Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Ukraine. Trainees completed a simulation crime scenario, conducted customs examinations, forensic, cyber, and financial investigations, working in mixed national teams to build new cross-border intelligence partnership.
The programme is part of series of regional interactive workshops on combatting illicit trafficking of art, antiquities and cultural property in an ongoing multi-year programme to combat the illicit trafficking of cultural property implemented by the OSCE Transnational Threats Department. Criminals and terrorists can make significant financial profits from the trafficking of art, antiquities and cultural property. Trafficking in cultural heritage is often viewed as low-risk by criminals: in many countries, historical sites are looted and damaged while artefacts, relics and monuments are stolen and traded – sometimes semi-legally through galleries auctions, but often through underground, illicit markets, the darknet and increasingly via social media. The OSCE’s programme aims to strengthen the capacity of law enforcement, customs and border officers of OSCE participating States to combat, reduce and prosecute the trafficking of cultural property.