Return of illegally exported cultural items to simplify from January

ILLEGALLY exported cultural items can be returned more easily and effectively to Slovakia from January 2016, as the Slovak parliament passed an amendment to the law on returning such items on November 11.

Bust of Pope Paul V by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sold in an auction and exported from Slovakia.Bust of Pope Paul V by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, sold in an auction and exported from Slovakia.(Source: Courtesy of Sotheby's)

With 93 votes in favour of the amendment, MPs thus incorporated into Slovak legislation the European-Union directive that secures the re-acquisition of cultural items by the European-Union member state from which they were exported, the TASR newswire wrote. The EU directive was passed on May 15, 2014.

This rule will be enhanced to include all items falling under the category of national cultural heritage, which have artistic, historical or archaeological value regardless of whether they are part of public or non-public collections or are individual artifacts. This amendment thus abolishes the addendum which currently stipulates financial or age limits for certain categories of cultural items.

Read also:Culture Minister cancels permit for export of Bernini’s Bust of Pope Paul V

The deadlines for evaluation of an item found in another country will be extended, too. While so far, responsible bodies of the country from which an artifact was exported have had just two months from the date of notification to examine and check its originality, from January the time limit will be six months.

The amendment introduces a provision specifically for cultural items which are part of a public collection or are inscribed on lists of church inventory the absolute right to reclaim them as the supreme legal guarantee.

Administrative cooperation aimed at returning these items should be boosted, too, the SITA newswire wrote. The directive orders the central bodies of member states to communicate through the Internal Market Information System (IMI), which should be specifically adjusted to the needs of cultural items. 

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