Showing results 1 - 12 of 82 for the tag: Legal action.

December 6, 2014

Does cultural diplomacy deter human rights violations?

Posted at 1:41 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles, Similar cases

Neil MacGregor would love it is the world believed that his latest initiative with the loan of a Parthenon Sculpture to the Hermitage was all about “cultural diplomacy”. This is not the first time he has tried taking this line – one previous example was with the loan of the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran. Now, like Geoffrey Robertson, I would be very interested to know if there was any improvement in Iran’s human rights record (or for that matter it relations with the UK) as a result of this, but I know that the answer would have to be an unequivocal no!

Geoffrey Robertson QC, Currently providing legal advice to Greece over the Parthenon Marbles issue

Geoffrey Robertson QC, Currently providing legal advice to Greece over the Parthenon Marbles issue

From:
Independent

Geoffrey Robertson
Friday 5 December 2014
The British Museum has just lost the Elgin Marbles argument
This loan is welcome — in that it gives the game away

The British Museum has moved the river god Illisos from his plinth in the Duveen Gallery to St. Petersburg for a celebration of Russian art collection at the Hermitage.

This raises two issues: first, why give a propaganda windfall to President Putin at a time when his breaches of international law can only be deterred by sanctions that are beginning to bite? Second, if a part of the Marbles can now been seen for the next two months by visiting St. Petersburg, why should all surviving pieces of the greatest art in world history not be seen, reunited at the Acropolis Museum under a blue attic sky and in the shadow of the Parthenon?

The museum claims that “cultural diplomacy” can somehow discourage human rights violators. This is nonsense – it tends to embolden them. In 2010 the museum lent the Cyrus Cylinder to Iran, only to have it welcomed by a pageant staged by President Ahmadinejad, in which Cyrus wore the insignia of the Basij militia, which the previous year had brutally beaten and killed hundreds of “Green Movement” demonstrators.
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December 3, 2014

A legal approach to the return of the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 3:21 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

When there was all the publicity surrounding the visit of lawyers to Athens a few weeks back, a journalist from To Vima, the Greek newspaper, contacted me (along with numerous others) with some questions.

The published article in Greek contained a few of the answers I gave, but I think it is worth posting the whole lot in full here.

Bear in mind, that I am not a lawyer – however, I have been present at meetings between lawyers & senior Greek officials in 2011, and party to various other high level discussions on the issue.

What I have written below should not be seen in any ways as a comprehensive discussion of the possible legal approaches, along with their benefits & risks, but merely brief answers based on the specific questions that I was asked.

Do you think it would be a “catastrophic” course of action? If yes, why? In any case, which court would, or should, make such a judgment?

At present, we must remember that all that is happening is that the Greek government is exploring the various options available to them. This is not the first time that such an approach has been considered – previous discussions between the Greek Government, and a team jointly led by Geoffrey Robertson and Norman Palmer took place in early 2011.

I think that anyone (from either side) who states that it would be a “catastrophic course of action”, is either scaremongering, or not fully aware of the range of possible approaches available and the variety of ways in which they might be applied.

One thing to be clear about, is that to achieve the goal of the return of the return of the Marbles, legal action does not necessarily have to succeed, but could merely be a catalyst for precipitating a chain of events leading to their return.
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November 16, 2014

The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Posted at 10:08 pm in Similar cases

A new bill in the House of Representatives in the USA aims to limit ISIS funding, by prohibiting the import of Syrian antiquities.

Various studies have indicated that the trade in looted artefacts has played a key role in ISIS’s funding in recent months.

If the bill is passed, its remit is wider than the current ISIS situation in Syria & Northern Iraq, allowing it to apply to other areas of instability around the world, where looting is taking place.

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

The ruins of Apamea in Syria in 2004, before the current conflict

From:
US Committee of the Blue Shield

Breaking news: bill in House to protect cultural property
The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act

Legislation to protect cultural property worldwide and curb ISIL funding by prohibiting import of Syrian antiquities was introduced into the House by Representatives Eliot L. Engel (D-NY) and Chris Smith (R-NJ).

For Immediate Release

November 14, 2014

Contacts:
Tim Mulvey (Engel) 202-226-9103
Jeff Sagnip (Smith) 202-225-3765
Engel, Smith offer bill to preserve cultural preservation preservation, curb ISIL funding

WASHINGTON, DC—Representative Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), the leading Democrat on the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, and Representative Chris Smith (R-NJ), chair of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations today announced that they have introduced legislation to improve American efforts to preserve cultural property around the world and cut off one source of funding to ISIL. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act (H.R. 5703) would take steps to coordinate efforts across government to preserve cultural artifacts where they may be threatened by conflict, instability, or natural disaster.
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November 15, 2014

Zahi Hawass faces allegations he facilitated antiquities thefts

Posted at 9:55 pm in Similar cases

For many years, Zahi Hawass took delight in being the official (and often controversial) representative of Egypt’s antiquities.

Since the fall of Mubarak though, many allegations have made about events that took place while he was in charge of the country’s antiquities.

former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass

former Egyptian Antiquities Minister Zahi Hawass

From:
Guardian

Former Egyptian antiquities minister faces questions over theft from pyramid
Zahi Hawass denies claim that he helped German hobbyists steal samples from Great Pyramid at Giza
Patrick Kingsley in Cairo
The Guardian, Wednesday 12 November 2014 14.04 GMT

The world’s most famous contemporary Egyptologist, Zahi Hawass, has been summoned for questioning over claims that he helped three German hobbyists steal rock samples from inside Egypt’s largest pyramid. Hawass denies the charges, saying “there is nothing against me”.

In April 2013, the three Germans – two amateur archaeologists and a film-making accomplice – crept inside the inner sanctum of the Great Pyramid at Giza, the last the seven wonders of the ancient world to remain relatively intact.
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November 4, 2014

Challenging the inalienability of artefacts in French museums

Posted at 10:11 pm in Similar cases

In recent years, France’s museums have been heavily hit with legal challenges – where the original owners have tried to reclaim what they believe is still rightfully theirs.

While the British Museum falls back on the anti-deaccessioning clauses in the British Museum Act as their first line of defence against such claim, France has their own version of this dating back to 1566, when the edict of Moulins proclaimed that the royal domain was inalienable and imprescriptible. Although its origins might be very different, for a long time, the net result was the same – once an item became the property of a French Museum, it was unlikely that its ownership would ever be transferred again to anywhere else.

Gradually though, this notion is being eroded – both by moral obligations & legal challenges. France is finally starting to re-think its past, in the context of today – surely it is time that the British Museum followed this lead.

Baba Merzoug, a 16th-century cannon from Algiers that was taken to Brest in 1834

Baba Merzoug, a 16th-century cannon from Algiers that was taken to Brest in 1834

From:
Guardian

French museums face a cultural change over restitution of colonial objects
Curators confront demands to return artefacts from collections reflecting an evolving attitude to the appropriation of items
Laurent Carpentier
Monday 3 November 2014 10.08 GMT

Ever since explorers, scientists and soldiers started travelling the world and bringing back treasures, France has upheld the principle of the “inalienability” of public heritage. The works that are now in French museums and collections will, supposedly, remain a part of national heritage for ever. This principle was established in 1566, when the edict of Moulins proclaimed that the royal domain was inalienable and imprescriptible. In simpler terms: the sovereign could not give away the assets he or she inherited. Two centuries later, the French revolution based its definition of the public domain on the same principle. It was the only point of reference for explorers sailing round the world in search of possessions and learning.

But in the past few years, changes in the international balance of political and economic power have upset this way of thinking. Demands for restitution have targeted anything from works of art to human remains and archaeological finds. Particularly odd examples include a fossil Mosasaurus (Meuse lizard), which was unearthed at Maastricht in the 18th century and brought back to France by the army, and Baba Merzoug, a 12-tonne cannon that defended the port of Algiers for 200 years, then was shipped to Brest in 1834 where it has braved the drizzle ever since.
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Amal Clooney née Alamuddin & the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 9:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

In the coverage of the visit to Greece by a team of Lawyers, much has been made of the presence of one particular individual on the team. This person is of course Amal Clooney, previously known as Amal Alamudddin. While the amount of additional publicity she created for the issue is amazing, the interpretation of her presence and the level of the questions asked by many of the newspapers is somewhat lacking.

Some stories claim that she is there to rescue the Marbles for Greece (with the implication that it would be done singlehandedly). Other stories take the opposite line & claim that she is only there because of her celebrity status. This claim is a blatant untruth based on nothing more than spurious conjecture, as she was in fact involved with research into this case since well before she became associated with George Clooney.

Still other papers criticise her (& often her husband too) for having opinions – as though when one becomes famous their opinions cease to have any basis. Unsurprisingly to many, these are the same papers that spend the rest of their time focusing on celebrities, speculating on their every move & reflecting on their choice of outfit every time they leave the house.

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

From:
Independent

Amal Alamuddin calls for the return of the Elgin Marbles from Britain: ‘Injustice has persisted for too long’
The human rights barrister said Greece has ‘just cause’ to wish for the repatriation of the artifacts
Wednesday 15 October 2014

Amal Alamuddin – who recently changed her name to Amal Clooney following her marriage – today spoke of the “injustice” that the Elgin Marbles have not yet been returned from Britain to Greece.

The human rights barrister has been enlisted to advise the Greek government on the issue.
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October 26, 2014

Greece considers Parthenon Marbles strategy

Posted at 10:57 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

More coverage of the recent visit to Athens by a team of three lawyers from the UK to discuss options for the reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

Amal Clooney nee Alamudin is shown around the New Acropolis Museum by Professor Pandermalis

Amal Clooney nee Alamudin is shown around the New Acropolis Museum by Professor Pandermalis

From:
Greek Reporter

Alamuddin-Clooney Concludes Greece Visit on Positive Note
by Philip Chrysopoulos – Oct 16, 2014

This afternoon, Amal Alamuddin-Clooney leaves Greece following a three-day visit to Athens in which she counseled the Greek government on the proper legal route for reclaiming the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

The 36-year-old lawyer – along with cultural heritage lawyers Norman Palmer and Geoffrey Robertson, as well as David Hill, chairman of the International Association for the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles – met with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and Minister of Culture Kostas Tasoulas to discuss the repatriation of the Marbles, an issue of long-standing discord between the Greek and British governments. According to witnesses, discussions between the legal team and the Greek government ended on an optimistic note.
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Greek government seeks legal guidance on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 10:41 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

To anyone reading the news over the last couple of weeks, it can not have escaped their attention that a team of lawyers (namely, Professor Norman Palmer, Geoffrey Robertson QC & Amal Clooney nee Alamudin (wife of George) have visited Athens to discuss the Parthenon Sculptures. They were also accompanied by David Hill, the chair of the International Association of the Reunification of the Parthenon Marbles.

Most of the press attention on the story has been because of the inclusion of Amal Clooney in the team. I can categorically state here though that she has had a long running interest in the case. Documents prepared in early 2011 for discussions with the Greek Government (which I was present at) bear her name at the end.

Much has been made in the press of how she will solve the issue – which I’m sure she would be the first to admit is complete nonsense. It is a long and complex dispute & however it is finally resolved, I don’t think it would be possible to assign all the success to a single individual. That said however, she has had a remarkable effect in lifting the issue from one discussed by academics and the broadsheet press, into one that every newspaper is talking about. The effects from a PR point of view can not be under-estimated & far more people in Britain now know what the Parthenon Marbles are compared to two weeks ago. Furthermore, the media wants to support winners – in the battle of the establishment, versus a famous film star & his highly intelligent, glamorous wife, many tend to take a different view to if it was portrayed as a cause only of real interest to Greeks & left leaning intellectuals.

I will write more about the specifics of legal action later & what was actually said after the meetings, but first of all, here is the key press coverage from their visit.

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

David Hill, Amal Clooney & Geoffrey Robertson in Athens

From:
Kathimerini (English Edition)

Eminent lawyers to advise Greek PM on Parthenon Marbles
Saturday October 11, 2014

Rights lawyer Amal Alamuddin Clooney and her eminent colleague Geoffrey Robertson are due in Athens on Monday for talks with Prime Minister Antonis Samaras which are expected to focus on legal arguments Greece can use in its bid to retrieve the Parthenon Marbles from the British Museum.

The British-based, Lebanese-born lawyer, who recently made headlines by marrying American actor George Clooney, and her senior colleague Robertson are due to stay in Athens through Thursday, according to the London-based Doughty Street Chambers legal firm. The barristers, who are also to meet with Culture Minister Costas Tasoulas during their stay, were first asked to provide advice to Athens in 2011.
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October 17, 2014

Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 7:31 am in Elgin Marbles

No one can have missed the wave of media attention over the last few days over a team of lawyers visiting Athens for consultations over the viability of legal action for the return of the Parthenon Marbles. You probably would have missed the story though, had it not been for one of the members on the team – the newly married Amal Clooney, formerly Alamuddin.

A lot of misinformation has permeated the press, relating to this story, as they are more drawn to the aspects of celebrity involvement than anything else.

First of all, Amal is not there merely because of her husband’s fame. I know for a fact that she has been researching the possibility of a case involving the Parthenon Sculptures, since at least 2011.

Secondly, she is not going to save Greece’s antiquities, as many sources claimed. I am sure she would be the first to agree with me on this one. She is there as by far the most junior member of a team of three very highly regarded lawyers. The other two, Geoffrey Robertson & Professor Norman Palmer already have significant experience in the field of cultural property restitution, such as bringing about changes in English law, to allow the return of all Aboriginal human remains held in Britain’s museums. She is no doubt a key member of the team, but anyone who suggests that she is the one leading the fight has clearly not researched things very well.

However, the draw of celebrities (& she seems to be treated as one because of her husband) in the media is immense. The amount of publicity it has given the issue can only help, particularly as the campaign for return is seen as having the young attractive intelligent one that the media loves on their side. Like Melina Mercouri before her, she gives a vibrancy to the campaign that lifts it above one of arguing academics & makes it something that is lapped up by the category of newspapers who would never normally show the slightest interest in such a story.

I was struck though, by the slightly peculiar lines of questioning by some of the press though – I noticed in more than one article that Amal was asked about what her husband thought about her work on the Marbles. Whether this is out of the fact that he is a celebrity, or that she is female, or that the journalists are trying to create a story when there is none, is unclear. But the fact remains, that neither of the other two lawyers were ever asked this question.

So, with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I decided to ask the famous author Kathy Lette (who is also the wife of Geoffrey Robertson), for her views on the Marbles, just so that if the media wants to ask her husband, the answer is already out there.

So – here it is. An exclusive story first published here – Kathy Lette’s views on the Parthenon Marbles restitution:

Kathy Lette

Kathy Lette

From:
Facebook

My view on the Elgin Marbles is how amusing it is to see the press pack losing their marbles over Amal.

Amal’s interest in the Acropolis has given the men of the world a real edifice complex!

So there you have it – we are still none the wiser what her real thoughts on the subject are – so I can’t add her to my list of supporters just yet…

October 9, 2014

Top lawyers to advise Greece on Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 12:54 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

Geoffrey Robertson (who has previously dealt with high profile cases such as fighting extradition of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange), along with Amal Alamuddin (who may be better known to many as the new Mrs George Clooney) are amongst lawyers, who have been asked to meet with the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras to discuss the issue of the Parthenon sculptures.

It is not yet known what form these discussions might take, or what approach they might be inviting the Greek government to take.

Amal’s involvement with the Parthenon Marbles follows the statements made by her now husband, George Clooney at the premiere of the film Monuments Men earlier this year.

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

Amal Alamuddin & Geoffrey Robertson

From:
Sydney Morning Herald

Amal Alamuddin and Geoffrey Robertson team up to win back Elgin Marbles for Greece
Nick Miller, Europe Correspondent
October 9, 2014 – 11:13AM

London: The new “Mrs Clooney” has her first post-wedding job – and it’s a doozy.

In tandem with fellow human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson, Amal Alamuddin is taking sides in one of the most controversial cultural arguments of recent history: she will try to win the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece.
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August 28, 2014

Ancient coins returned to Greece after New York investigation

Posted at 12:59 pm in Similar cases

As part of a plea bargain, during an investigation into black market trading of rare coins, the collector Arnold-Peter Weiss has agreed to return some of the disputed coins to GReece.

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

Ancient Greek coins returned after investigations into illicit trading

From:
Reuters

Ancient coins returned to Greece as part of New York plea deal
05/08/14 12:14 CET

A collection of ancient silver pieces forfeited during an undercover investigation into black-market coin trading in New York City was handed over to the Greek government at a ceremony on Monday, city officials said.

The repatriation of the five coins dating back to 515 BC resulted from a plea agreement by a Rhode Island orthopedic surgeon and longtime coin collector who was convicted of attempted criminal possession of rare stolen coins in 2012.
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July 22, 2014

Preview screening of Promakhos – a film about the Parthenon Marbles

Posted at 5:19 pm in British Museum, Elgin Marbles

I was fortunate enough to be invited last week to a preview screening (essentially where they drum up intereste from possible distributors etc) for the film Promakhos, which I have already written about previously here.

The event was well attended, with Stephen Fry giving his thoughts on it afterwards and leadng a question & answer session with the two directors.

Marbles Reunited has already done a very good writeup of the event – so I won’t try & repeat their work, but will just give a summary of my own thoughts on the film.

Styled as a legal thriller, it follows the story of one person’s fight to use the courts to secure the return of the Elgin Marbles to Greece. There are many dramatic scenes in it, and perhaps the most memorable part is where Paul Debevec’s superlative three-dimensional model of the Parthenon is broght to life in the room, as the people wander around it, stepping into a rebuilt past through the use of virtual reality glasses.

As you can imagine, things do not always proceed smoothly – yet the film’s protagonist manages to maintain his vision & despite the ups & downs remains focussed on the goal of securing the return of the sculptures.

The cinematography is magnificent, and for anyone who has ever spent time in Athens, prefectly manages to capture the spirat of the city, through othersise unremarkable details, in a way that perhaps holds far more of its modern day charm than many films, that only see things through the eyes of a tourist. There are various allusions throught the film to ancient Greece & aspects of mythology, helping to further anchor the present day story into the ethos of ancient Athens & to show the importance of the Parthenon Sculptures to Greeks.

The film is set against the backdrop of the financial crisis & the unrest that followed in Athens – and as such is very much of its time. However, that it just because it takes place now – the story that it is telling could largely be transplanted to any other time in the campaign for the return of the sculptures & would continue to make sense. It is not something that the British Museum can just ignore with the hope that it goes away.

There are a few amusing moments too – particularly, when during the cases, others highlight their own countries requests for the return of arterfacts from the British Museum.

The film is not on display publicly anywhere yet – in the meantime though, you can watch the trailer, to give you a flavour of what it is about.

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos

Stephen Fry with one of the directors at the preview screening of Promakhos