WASHINGTON, April 18, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Lawyers and legal scholars are petitioning Congress to table proposed legislation, which may leave deserving claimants without recourse to recover their stolen artworks.
The not-for-profit Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP) is asking the Senate to postpone consideration of the Foreign Cultural Exchange Jurisdictional Immunity Clarification Act, until it has addressed concerns with this bill through open hearings.
The proposed legislation will allow foreign governments to immunize themselves from U.S. lawsuits when loaning art and antiquities to American museums. While LCCHP supports cultural exchange, the organization fears the bill would leave victims of theft and looting without recourse to recover their rightful property. "By allowing museums to knowingly exhibit illicit artwork, it will also send a terrible message to the public, which undermines the longstanding U.S. commitment to cultural heritage preservation," said Tess Davis, Executive Director of LCCHP.
According to Davis, "Congress has been unable to consider these concerns because of the unnecessary speed at which this bill is advancing. Many interested parties are unaware of it and have not yet made their voices heard. Given there is no apparent reason for such undue haste, we urge the Senate to postpone this proposed legislation, pending open hearings."
Senate Bill 2212 was introduced on March 20 for consideration by Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT). It was then referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, chaired by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). It is the counterpart to House Bill 4086, which had been introduced in the House of Representatives on February 24, and subsequently passed by voice vote.
LCCHP is not alone in its campaign for open hearings: institutions representing Holocaust victims, as well as advocates against the illicit antiquities trade, are also appealing to Congress.
The Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation
LCCHP is a not-for-profit organization that fosters the stewardship of the objects, places, and traditions that define us as societies, nations, civilizations, and even human beings. Learn more at www.culturalheritagelaw.org. Follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/LCCHP.
SOURCE Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation (LCCHP)