OSCE helps train Central Asian customs officers


DUSHANBE -- A four-day-long programme to help Central Asian customs officers prevent the illegal trafficking of cultural heritage ended in Dushanbe last Friday, the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) said in a statement Tuesday (April 2).

The programme aims to stop activities such as those perpetrated by the "Islamic State" (IS) before its so-called "caliphate" collapsed, when the terrorist group made millions smuggling historic artefacts out of Iraq and Syria.

Twenty-one customs officers from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan participated in the training, which the OSCE and the World Customs Organisation (WCO) co-organised.

French and Dutch customs specialists helped give the training on matters like identifying, handling and documenting cultural objects.

The training was part of an OSCE project meant to make the issue more urgent for the customs agencies of OSCE participating states.

"We do believe that shared expertise and knowledge will contribute towards protection of the unique and extremely rich cultural heritage of Central Asian countries," said Goran Stojkovski, an OSCE customs adviser.

The workshop was the first joint effort by the OSCE and WCO.

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