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The IADAA has revealed that recently published figures from the latest World Customs Organisation’s Illicit Trade Report shows that crimes related to cultural property represented 0.08% of illicit trade in goods globally. This is a decline from the already low figure of 0.2% in 2017.

The WCO found 20 different countries reported 98 cases involving the trafficking of cultural objects but the number of reported seizures globally involving cultural property fell from 193 to 123, a year-on-year reduction of 36%.

The IADAA analysed the 2018 figures from the WCO’s 200-page report which was published in December 2019.

In IADAA’s statement about the report it said: “Despite the claim [now removed] on the Interpol website that illicit trade in cultural property was third only to that in drugs and weapons, the WCO figures show that this has never been the case and that, in fact, cultural property trafficking is by a very long way the smallest category of concern.”

The WCO said some customs departments do not report data on crime due to a number of reasons. These included “the need to maintain secrecy over ongoing investigations” and the fact that in some cases customs seizure data can be shared “only after the restitution to the source country and practice shows that this process can take up to 10 years”.