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Australia has a 'special duty' to detect stolen Iraqi artefacts.



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DARYL MELHAM MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE AND CUSTOMS

• NEWS RELEASE • NEWS RELEASE • NEWS RELEASE •

24 April 2003

Australia has a ‘special duty’ to detect stolen Iraqi artefacts

Reports that important artefacts from Iraq are already turning up on international markets are a warning to the Justice and Customs Minister to ensure Australian police and customs are properly equipped to detect looted relics.

“Some of the thousands of relics that were looted from Baghdad’s National Museum of Antiquities are now turning up on western antique markets,” said the Shadow Minister for Justice and Customs, Daryl Melham.

“Australia is a wealthy country and it’s exactly the sort of market where thieves will try to sell their loot.”

“Given the failure of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ to protect significant sites in Baghdad, then Australia has a special responsibility to ensure any artefacts that find their way here are detected and returned to Iraq.”

“Laws are already in place to prevent people from importing these artefacts - with the threat of fines up to $200,000 and five years in jail.”

“But the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Ellison, must make sure the Australian Customs Service and Australian Federal Police have the resources to tap into and assist international efforts to find the stolen artefacts.”

“This includes working with international agencies to publish catalogues that identify some of the most important artefacts that were stolen.”

Media contact: Derek Hand 0416 147 608