House of Lords | London, United Kingdom
16 December 2014

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Walk of Truth and Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose hosted a presentation on “Blood, Treasure and Islamic State: War, Extremism and the Looting of Culture” at the House of Lords. The event discussed the link between religious freedom and the destruction of cultural heritage.

The presentation was attended by 250 distinguished guests, including numerous members of the House of Lords and House of Commons, academics, religious leaders, diplomats, and experts in the fields of cultural heritage, religion and law. During the event, participants had the opportunity to view looted frescoes from the occupied northern part of Cyprus that were sent to the hotel room of Hadjitofi in London via FedEx by a possessor who wishes to remain anonymous.


  • Elizabeth Berridge, Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose
  • Tasoula Hadjitofi, Global Cultural Advocate and Founder of Walk of Truth
  • Prof Dr Willy Bruggeman, Chairman of the Belgian Federal Police Council and former Deputy Director of Europol
  • Baron Serge Brammertz, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia
  • Prof Norman Palmer, a barrister at 3 Stone Buildings and a visiting professor at King’s College London and the University of Notre Dame in London
  • David Burrowes MP, Member of Parliament for Enfield, Southgate


  • Walk of Truth
  • Baroness Berridge of the Vale of Catmose

Call to Action:
We work towards the restitution of cultural heritage as a means for promoting peace and reconciliation. The loss of cultural heritage is a loss of identity and human dignity. The restitution of cultural heritage can have a restorative effect to a people and is key to peace and reconciliation.

We urge public engagement in order to create a world of peace and we strive to inspire ordinary citizens to lend their support in protective cultural heritage. We stress the significance of unity in combating the destruction of cultural heritage in Mali, Syria and Iraq using lessons learned Cyprus.

We encourage collaboration between private organisations and initiatives with law enforcement and other legal instruments to protect cultural heritage. Private organisations often have greater flexibility to act at a faster time than public organisations to respond quickly. We believe that better collaboration should be encouraged between organisations and civil society in order to protect at risk heritage.

We stress that combating the looting and trafficking of artefacts is a way to counter extremism. Extremist groups, including the Islamic State, are often financed by illicit trafficking in looted art and antiquities. The proceeds of these sales are used to fund other criminal activities such as drugs, weapons and fund extremism. The best way to combat art trafficking is to regulate trade and reduce demand.

We urge the reconsideration of the existing international legal framework, which is open to interpretation and has many loopholes that offenders can use to get away with the plundering of culture. We need to adapt and strengthen it in order to be effective and deliver ethical trade.

We believe that the systematic destruction of cultural heritage should be treated as a war crime or a crime against humanity. Systematic cultural destruction is often used as an instrument to erase the heritage and identities of targeted groups, especially in a process of ethnic cleansing. We encourage prosecutors to bring cases of cultural cleansing on war tribunals.

We believe that sound legal approaches should be complemented by other courses of action — such as diplomatic initiatives — for the restitution of unlawfully removed cultural treasures. The legal route should be the last resort.


Presentation Programme (PDF)