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Cultural property is a concrete witness of culture and history that holds a special place for the identity of the individual as well as the community as a whole. It further defines the self-image and social cohesion of a society. This is why protecting, preserving and promoting movable cultural heritage today is one of the important duties of a state.
The Specialized Body for the International Transfer of Cultural Property at the Swiss Federal Office of Culture (FOC) has been entrusted since June 1, 2005 with the execution of the Federal Act on the International Transfer of Cultural Property (CPTA). The CPTA implements the 1970 UNESCO Convention into domestic law and regulates the import of cultural property into Switzerland, its transit and export and its repatriation from Switzerland as well as measures against illicit transfer. With this act, the Federal Government desires to make a contribution to the maintenance of the cultural heritage of mankind and prevent theft, looting, and illicit import and export of cultural property.
In particular, the CPTA affects the following areas:
As the federal center of competence, the Specialized Body is the point of contact for the public, involved circles and authorities. It represents Switzerland vis-à-vis foreign authorities on issues of the transfer of cultural property. The Specialized Body advises and coordinates work of the federal authorities and assumes an advisory role as well in cooperation with cantonal authorities (in particular, justice authorities and public prosecution, cantonal archeology authorities as well as cultural departments).
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