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Workshop on “Regional cooperation in investigation of Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Goods (ITCG) in the Western Balkans”

The regional project Countering Serious Crime in the Western Balkans – IPA 2019 (CSCWB), in cooperation with the Geneva Centre for Security Sector Governance’s (DCAF) regional office in Ljubljana (Slovenia), organised a workshop on “Regional cooperation in investigation of Illicit Trafficking of Cultural Goods (ITCG) in the Western Balkans”, which was held on 7th and 8th of March in Trebinje (Bosnia and Herzegovina). The main objective of this workshop was to deepen regional cooperation between respective WB partners in countering illicit trafficking of cultural goods.

The two-day event brought together national representatives of law enforcement, prosecution, and police academies of the Western Balkan countries, alongside representatives from Interpol and Carabinieri Corps. The beneficiaries had the possibility to present existing legal framework and case law of their respective countries dealing with issues of illicit trafficking of cultural goods, and through concrete examples demonstrate the challenges they are facing in combatting this phenomenon. Despite the fact that countering ITCG is not a regional priority, it constitutes one of the most prominent and lucrative transborder criminal activities in the Western Balkans. Hence, the workshop beneficiaries highly appreciated the shared lessons learnt by Interpol and Carabinier Corps representatives who have extensive experience in dealing with this type of crime.

Furthermore, through the work in groups, the participants had an opportunity to work on a case study inspired by true events from Bosnia and Herzegovina requiring them to put their investigative and legal knowledge into practice. All attendees underlined the importance of regional cooperation in combatting this phenomenon and significance of these type of events in raising awareness among professionals. Representatives of the Project, Interpol, Carabinieri Corps and DCAF expressed their content regarding many activities undertaken by beneficiaries in combatting this crime and stressed importance of further enhancing the cooperation between Western Balkan countries and their institutions. The follow up activity in the field off ITCG supported by the Project will take place in the end of March 2023 and it will consist of a regional cross-border operation/ field training activity, targeting primarily ITCG alongside other forms of serious and organized crime.

The project CSC WB IPA 2019 is implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the Italian Ministry of Interior (IMoI) and the Centre for International Legal Cooperation (CILC), co-financed by the European Union, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and the Italian Ministry of Interior. Its main objective is to strengthen the cross-border cooperation to counter serious and organised crime in the Western Balkans with institutions and networks of the EU.