New Convention in Cyprus Targets Illegal Antiquities Dealers

NICOSIA (AP) — Cyprus’ foreign minister says a new Council of Europe convention will take aim at smugglers and buyers who deal in stolen antiquities and other priceless cultural artifacts in a trade that’s often used to finance terrorist organizations.

Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides said Wednesday the Nicosia Convention is the first to criminalize the theft and destruction of cultural property. A key clause of the convention puts the burden of proof on buyers to demonstrate that the purchased item wasn’t illicitly obtained.

Kasoulides said it’s estimated that the Islamic State group and other terrorist organizations have earned $150 million (135 million euros) from the illicit trade.

He said the convention is due to be signed later this week when Cyprus hosts a meeting of the human rights body.


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