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Showing posts from January 20, 2007

Diplomatic bags and illicit trade of art

Diplomatic licence - An unpublished report claims that antiquities are being smuggled by embassy staff By Martin Bailey Posted 18 January 2007 LONDON. Diplomatic bags are being used to smuggle antiquities, both in Afghanistan and elsewhere, according to the Dutch researcher Jos van Beurden. In an unpublished paper, he has gathered anecdotal evidence suggesting that diplomatic privileges are regularly abused.The 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations states that bags should “not be opened or detained”. Although the bag (or pouch) was traditionally used for correspondence, it can contain other items, and luggage of diplomats normally passes through customs without being searched. Professor Colin Renfrew has stated that diplomatic bags provide “an important route” for smuggling antiquities, and he has called for them to be used only for papers. Professor Ahmad Hassan Dani, chairman of the Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan’s Cultural Heritage, was once asked about potential…