Panama / Police Cooperation

Assistance to create a specialised unit to protect cultural assets in Panama

15 October 2020

At present, cultural assets are the focus of a lucrative illegal trade for many gangs, the trafficked goods include artefacts, furniture and real estate, many containing high heritage and cultural value of interest to the states. Trafficking in cultural assets seriously damages the cultural heritage of the countries in Central America and, especially, Panama.

Given the situation caused by this scourge and the lack of regulations, legal and practical measures in the region to combat the trafficking of cultural assets, the states have highlighted the need for help to combat the problem that prevents the cultural and sustainable development of the region.

The Panamanian Ministry of Public Security has requested support from EL PAcCTO in constituting a unit within the National Police specialising in the protection of cultural heritage and the investigation of cases of trafficking in cultural assets, a recommendation received by theUnited Nations Sanctions Monitoring and Analytical Support Team.

Institutions committed to protecting cultural assets

That is why these countries will be assisted by EL PAcCTO through a specialised remote advisory service with a European expert who will, initially, provide a documentary study based on the materials Panama provides for this study. It will also involve analysis and planned recommendations for the protection of the cultural assets of Panama. The advisory service will include participation by representatives from the Prosecutor’s Office and the Judiciary, the Ministry of the Environment, a representative from Customs and from the liaison for the programme’s police cooperation component.

The objectives for this line of work by the Police Cooperation component are to get to know the heritage protection situation and that relating to trafficking in cultural assets. Also, to create, consolidate and strengthen a new structure commissioned with protecting cultural heritage and the fight against trafficking in cultural assets within the security institutions and, to improve coordination between the Police, the Prosecutor’s Office, the Judiciary and the other entities involved in criminal investigations into the illicit trafficking in cultural assets.

This initial activity will be followed by another that will provide the National Police with support in designing the structure and operating procedures for a police unit specialising in protecting cultural heritage and the investigation of cases of trafficking in cultural assets.

It is expected a draft of proposed regulations will be drawn up, along with the creation and launch of the police unit, which will specialise in protecting cultural heritage and fighting against trafficking in cultural assets and, of course, it will work on specific cases aimed at dismantling the criminal networks.