Cultural Heritage TraffickingNews

RITHMS HE Project: Research, Intelligence and Technology for Heritage and Market Security

The illicit trafficking of cultural goods is not a new form of crime; however, in the last few decades, this phenomenon has progressed into a lucrative source of income for extensive criminal networks that involve both white-collar and traditional criminals and leverage online outlets and social media platforms to expand their market. The absence of comprehensive regulations, inconsistencies among national laws, and the challenge of tracing object provenance have contributed to a troubling increase in illicit transactions.

In response to this issue, HE RITHMS project (G.A. 101073932), launched in October 2022, aims to develop and validate an intelligence digital resource for investigating and combating these crimes. Exploiting the methodology of Social Network Analysis, RITHMS Platform is designed to be an innovative, interoperable, and multifunctional system. Its purpose is to identify, assess, and analyse the relationships between criminal and non-criminal actors involved in illicit trafficking of cultural goods. By highlighting the networks involved in the illicit trade of cultural property and their potential evolution, the Platform will enhance the reach and accuracy of the information available to Law Enforcement Agencies (LEAs).

Thanks to a combination of research, technological development, and training programs, RITHMS project aims to define a global strategy to effectively counter the cultural and financial challenges posed by the trafficking of looted and stolen cultural goods.

Including four Police authorities, two Border Agencies, one Police School, SMEs, and researchers from SSH and ICT, RITHMS Consortium, coordinated by the Italian Institute of Technology, is well positioned to ensure a tangible positive impact on European citizens and society.