Support to draft laws for ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses against Cultural Property 28.04.2020


On Tuesday, April 28, the Cabinet of Ministers supported the draft laws developed by the Ministry of Justice, which envisage ensuring the ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Related to Cultural Property (the Convention) and Latvia's national regulation in compliance with the Convention. The Convention was signed on behalf of Latvia on 22 February 2018 by the Minister of Justice.

Two interlinked draft laws, the "Amendments to the Criminal Law" and the "Council of Europe Convention on Offenses against Cultural Property", are designed to ensure ratification of the Convention and to define cultural property and criminal liability for illegal activities covered by the Convention, for which criminal liability has not been envisaged in Latvia so far.

At the same time, the draft law "On the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Related to Cultural Property"  envisages taking various preventive measures now and in the future to prevent offenses related to cultural property. The Ministry responsible for these obligations will be the Ministry of Culture.

The draft stipulates that Latvia will have to submit a declaration to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe on certain offenses, where criminal liability is provided only if it has caused significant damage, in other cases providing for administrative liability.

The Convention will be considered ratified after the Parliament adopts the Law "On the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Relating to Cultural Property" and the instrument of ratification is submitted to the Secretary General of the Council of Europe. The Convention will enter into force once it has been ratified by at least five signatory states, including at least three member states of the Council of Europe. Amendments to the Criminal Law will enter into force after their adoption by the Parliament.

The amendments included in the draft laws were drafted and supported by the working group "Ratification of the Council of Europe Convention on Offenses Relating to Cultural Property". The working group consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of the Interior, the State Police, the Prosecutor General's Office, the National Heritage Board, courts and the Latvian Collegium of Sworn Advocates. The draft laws have also been reviewed and supported by the permanent working group of the Ministry of Justice on Criminal Law.

The draft laws are available on the website of the Cabinet of Ministers.

 

Additional information:

The Convention is one of the Council of Europe's most recent criminal law instruments, preventing and combating the destruction of cultural property and the financing of terrorism. Illicit trafficking in cultural goods is one of the most common forms of organized crime and ways how terrorism is financed.

The Convention will improve international co-operation in the fight against the destruction of cultural property, and it also provides for the establishment of uniform conditions for investigations, holding persons liable. The Convention criminalises criminal offenses such as theft, unlawful excavation and transfer of cultural property, unlawful importation and exportation, acquisition, placing on the market, forgery of documents relating to cultural property, and destruction of and damage to cultural property.

The Ministry of Justice has participated in the drafting of the Convention and has also carried out the initial assessment of national law. On 31 October 2017, the Cabinet of Ministers supported Latvia's accession to the Convention and authorized the Minister of Justice to sign it. The Informative Report is available HERE!

More information on the Council of Europe website.

Council of Europe Convention (in Latvian ).

To date, the Convention has been signed by twelve countries, two of which have also ratified it.

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