Law of Ukraine

“On Ratification of the Agreement on Cooperation between the Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Counteracting Plundering of Cultural Valuables and Ensuring Their Return”

Date of entry into force:
May 24, 2013

The Agreement on Cooperation between the Members of the Commonwealth of Independent States in Counteracting Plundering of Cultural Valuables and Ensuring Their Return (hereinafter referred to as “Agreement”) was concluded on October 5, 2007 in Dushanbe.

The Law ratifies the Agreement.

According to the Law, Ukraine refrains from obligations related to harmonization of national legislation within CIS, and obligations related to measures aimed at implementing the provisions of universal and regional multilateral agreements, agreed on the CIS level.

Article 1 of the Agreement defines the terms used in it.

According to the Agreement, the Parties cooperate, through their competent authorities, to prevent, stop, discover and solve offences related to plundering of cultural valuables, to conduct their search, and to ensure their return. The list of competent authorities, including the central competent authority, is determined by each Party and delivered to the depositary together with the notification of the completion of domestic procedures required for the Agreement to take effect (Article 2 of the Agreement).

According to Article 3 of the Agreement, the Parties cooperate in the following main directions:
  • improving the normative legal base for cooperation of the Parties in counteracting plundering of cultural valuables and ensuring their return; harmonizing the legislation of the Parties in this sphere;
  • implementing the agreed measures aimed at implementing the provisions of universal and regional international agreements aimed at counteracting plundering of cultural valuables, which the Parties are party to;
  • analyzing the state and dynamics of crime related to plundering of cultural valuables, and the result of counteracting such crime;
  • improving the mechanisms for cooperation between law enforcement bodies and other authorities to implement the agreed measures aimed at counteracting plundering of cultural valuables, and ensuring their search and return;
  • carrying out appropriate measures in respect of legal entities and natural persons, in case of any grounds to suspect their involvement in plundering of cultural valuables.

Article 4 of the Agreement envisages the following main forms of cooperation between the Parties:
  • exchange of investigative, forensic, statistical and other information, in particular, information about planned and committed offences, and the legal entities and natural persons involved in them;
  • fulfilling queries on detection and investigation measures;
  • planning and implementing coordinated preventive and investigation measures;
  • exchanging normative legal acts, publications and methodological materials;
  • exchanging work experience, conducting working meetings, consultations, workshops, practical conferences and seminars, and joint scientific research;
  • developing and implementing agreed measures of preventing and counteracting the use of open telecommunication networks for the purposes of selling plundered cultural valuables;
  • providing cooperation in staff training and advanced training;
  • developing and implementing new methods for tagging cultural valuables.

According to Article 5 of the Agreement, each of the Parties:
  • implements all necessary measures to: 1) establish and ensure the procedure for import and export of cultural valuables, and for all operations with such cultural valuables carried out on its territory; 2) preventing, counteracting and solving offences related to plundering, buying, selling, illegal import and export of cultural valuables, illegal excavation, and other illegal operations related to cultural valuables; 3) ensuring that a buyer knowingly buying plundered or illegally imported cultural valuables is declared to be unscrupulous; 4) photofixation and concealed tagging of cultural valuables in state ownership;
  • establishes and imposes sanctions against legal entities and natural persons that committed or are involved in offences related to plundering, buying, selling, illegal import and export of cultural valuables, illegal excavation or other illegal operations related to cultural valuables;
  • uses all available means to increase the level of public awareness for the purposes of preventing illegal import and export of cultural valuables, their plundering, illegal excavation, and other illegal operations related to cultural valuables.

Article 6 of the Agreement envisages that each of the Parties ensures:
  • that competent authorities maintain databases containing information about: 1) missing, lost, stolen and wanted cultural valuables; 2) intercepted, seized, arrested or confiscated cultural valuables;
  • that information contained in the above databases is promptly provided by request of the competent authorities of other Parties.

In case of plundering of cultural valuables on the territory of one of the Parties, its competent authority notifies the central competent authorities of other Parties accordingly (Article 7 of the Agreement).

According to Article 8 of the Agreement, in case of detection, interception, arrest, seizure or confiscation of cultural valuables on the territory of one of the Parties, with the suspicion that such cultural valuables were plundered on the territory of the another Party, the competent authority of the Party that uncovered such circumstances notifies the central competent authority of the interested Party within 30 days. The central competent authority of the notified Party informs the competent authority in charge of the case related to the search of the respective cultural valuable.

In case plundered cultural valuables are discovered on the territory of one of the Parties, the competent authority of the Party that uncovered such valuables sends a motivated request for their return to the central competent authority of the Party where the cultural valuables are located (Article 9 of the Agreement).

The procedure for reviewing the issue of returning plundered cultural valuables is established by Article 11 of the Agreement.

In case of return, cultural valuables are issued to the representative of the requesting Party’s competent authority, upon presentation of a document that confirms their authority to receive such valuables, issued by the competent authority of the requesting Party (Article 12 of the Agreement).

According to Article 15 of the Agreement, satisfaction of the request to return plundered cultural valuables can be delayed if:
  • administrative or criminal proceedings have been initiated based on the fact of plundering of cultural valuables – the above request is delayed until proceedings are complete in the administrative offence case, a resolution is reached in a criminal case, or an appropriate decision is made in respect of such cultural valuables;
  • the ownership, interception, arrest, seizure or confiscation of the plundered cultural valuables that are the subject of the request are also subject of a court claim filed on the territory of the receiving Party – the above request is delayed until the court resolution in the appropriate case takes effect.

No customs or other duties apply to the movement of plundered cultural valuables, being returned under the Agreement, across the customs borders of the Parties, and customs clearance is done according to the procedure established by the legislation of the Party on whose territory customs clearance takes place. Expenses related to interception of plundered cultural valuables and their storage before their return to the representative of the requesting Party’s competent authority are borne by the receiving Party. Expenses related to the return of plundered cultural valuables to the territory of the requesting Party are borne by the competent authority of the requesting Party. Expenses related to the return of plundered cultural valuables are compensated according to the legislation of the Parties (Article 16 of the Agreement).

The Law aims to create legal foundations for intensifying practical cooperation with law enforcement bodies of the CIS countries and to facilitate Ukraine’s efforts to fight crime on the national and international levels.
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