‘Criminology tools can curb illicit trade in artefacts’


Archaeologist Donna Yates, Leverhulme Fellow and Research Associate with the Trafficking Culture Project, has suggested that the stakeholders of Nepal should apply criminology tools to study the behaviours of the antiquity traffickers and curb the illegal trade of cultural property.

Speaking at a discussion programme on ‘Stolen Gods: Criminological Approach to the Illicit Trade in Antiquities’, conducted by Kathmandu Metropolitan City in collaboration with Impact Productions and Explore Nepal, Yates said that stakeholders and authorities should engage academic research teams and archaeologists to trace out the criminal networks of antiquity traffickers active in illicit trafficking of cultural objects in Nepal. Highlighting the great risk of antiquity theft post the April 25 earthquake, she warned, “Illegal antiquity trade is directly related to disaster and conflict. Nepal should adopt strict security and access measures giving no space for the illicit cultural property thefts.”

The criminological approach aims to change the physical and social environment to demotivate criminals to steal archaeological objects. The collectors, regional brokers, museums and auction houses are the masterminds behind the illicit trafficking of the cultural properties in the international markets.

“Nepal should deploy strong security and monitoring teams on borders and airports to nab the traffickers before the cultural items are illegally exported outside the nation. It is almost impossible to recover the stolen artefacts as criminals are experts in changing the trafficking network channels,” she said, adding that stolen artifacts can be recovered from the international markets only if an inventory is developed.

KMC, the Department of Archaeology and other stakeholders have been urged to create the inventories of the heritage sites, artefacts and monuments by documenting them in videos, written records, photographs and paintings in the aftermath of quake.