Wednesday, February 13, 2008

More on the California Raids

Harvard lawprof Terry Martin e-mails some interesting thoughts on the recent California museum raids:

"These federal raids on the Silk Roads Gallery in Los Angeles and on four California museums raise an interesting set of links between foreign, state and federal law. At issue is the illegal importation of antiquities from Myanmar, Thailand and China. Put aside the fact that since 2003, the U.S. has banned the import of all Burmese products.

"Since 1961, Thailand has made buried, concealed or abandoned antiquities state property. Other antiquities may be exported only with a permit. Permits are never granted. Since 1982, China makes all undiscovered antiquities state property.

"Cal. Penal Code §497 makes it a state crime to bring into the state property stolen or received in another state:

Every person who, in another state or country steals or embezzles the property of another, or receives such property knowing it to have been stolen or embezzled, and brings the same into this state, may be convicted and punished in the same manner as if such larceny, or embezzlement, or receiving, had been committed in this state.

"The Archaeological Resources Protection Act, 16 U.S.C. § 470ee (c) makes trafficking in archaeological resources wrongfully obtained under State or local law a federal infraction:

No person may sell, purchase, exchange, transport, receive, or offer to sell, purchase, or exchange, in interstate or foreign commerce, any archaeological resource excavated, removed, sold, purchased, exchanged, transported, or received in violation of any provision, rule, regulation, ordinance, or permit in effect under State or local law.

"Does this combination of foreign, state and federal laws make the National Stolen Property Act almost irrelevant in states with laws like California’s?"