Saturday, November 27, 2010

Additional Research for Criminologists

It seems that there are further efforts to analyze cultural property issues as criminal law issues. See

But there needs to be more analysis of the foreign laws that form the basis of defining action in the United States as "criminal."

The governments of the most aggressive "source countries" have been rightly criticised to one degree or another for their authoritarian ways, their endemic corruption, or their excessive regulation. Under the circumstances, should law enforcement and the courts use our criminal law to effectuate broad declarations of foreign ownership made by such countries so uncritically? Congress thought it was retaining our nation's "independent judgment" in such matters when it passed the CPIA, but aggressive law enforcement agencies with the help of the archaeological community have broadened the scope of potential criminal liability for violation of foreign law markedly since the CPIA was passed. No one would advocate effectuating foreign laws on press freedom here by prosecuting Americans for insulting foreign leaders. So why put Americans in jail for violations of foreign cultural patrimony laws?

There also is the issue of how foreign patrimony laws are enforced at home. In countries like China and Greece, there is one law for "the ordinary joe" or the foreigner and quite another for those connected to the powerful. Should this also be taken into account before potential criminal liability is considered?

Finally, there is the issue of the effectiveness of foreign cultural patrimony law. For example, I've read that a large percentage of the Bulgarian population is allegedly involved in illicit metal detecting. If so, potential criminal liability has obviously not changed behavior and other approaches, like that embodied in the PAS and Treasure Act should be considered.

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