Training in Costa Rica and El Salvador for Police to Fight Illicit Trafficking in Cultural Property

24 March 2017

As part of the “Project for the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property in Central America and Dominican Republic” funded by the Spanish Cooperation, UNESCO San José’s Office organized two specialized workshops addressed to police forces.  Officials from the National Guard, the Treasury police, the National Police and Customs agents among others participated on March 13th and 14th in Costa Rica and  March 16th and 17th in El Salvador.

The main objective was to strengthen the operative capacities of police forces on the prevention and the fight against illicit trafficking of cultural property, as well as to promote the creation of special units. The training sessions were led by Mr. Marcelo El Haibe, Interpol Argentina’s Commissioner, who is highly experienced on the recovery of cultural property and on leading courses for police in Latin America.

Illicit trafficking in cultural property is a scourge that severely damages the cultural heritage of Central America and the Dominican Republic and precludes the potential of culture as a source of economic and social development. The training sessions include the international cooperation and  legal aspects of fighting trafficking and the UNESCO 1970 Convention established to address this.  This is a follow-up to the Regional Meeting of la Antigua Guatemala that took place in November 2016 and from which emerged the “Declaration of la Antigua Guatemala on the fight against illegal trafficking in cultural property in Central America and Dominican Republic”. The declaration identifies as one of the priorities to facilitate the creation, identification and training of specialized national teams of customs, police, prosecutors and all State security agencies in charge of the prevention of illicit traffic in cultural property and the fight against this scourge. It also aims to develop coordination between these services and the relevant municipal, national, regional and international institutions (point 3).