Kradzież i przywłaszczenie zabytku

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Wydział Prawa i Administracji UAM

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The theft and appropriation of Monuments


The growing threat to monuments and other objects of culture call for undertaking multidirectional actions and diversified measures. One of them is penal law protection of objects of culture. It is carried out by two groups of norms. To the first one belong the norms — contained in the Act of February 15, 1962 on Protection of Objects of Culture and Museums — protecting only the monuments. The second group consists of the norms of the Penal Code of 1969 and the Petty Offences Code of 1971, both of them dealing also — though not exclusively — with the protection of monuments. The norms belonging to the first group provide for less severe sanctions than the sanctions for other, similar or even lesser offences. Therefore, of crucial importance to the protection of monuments are the codes' provisions, especially those sanctioning the theft or appropriation of private property, which is called in the Penal Code „the property of another person, and the fraudulent seizure of public property. Polish law differentiates the penal protection of property depending on its value and its owner. As a rule, greater protection is granted to public property, i.e. to national property, cooperative property or the property of other organizations of the working people. Equally intensifield protection is granted to non-public property, i.e. to personal or individual property, if it has been entrusted to a state or public institution for storage, transportation, sale or for other similar purpose. As far as the protection of monuments is concerned, such a regulation is incorect. The degree of protection of the relics of the past, many of which are numbered among the national objects of culture, should not depend on who is the owner of a monument. Similarly, neither the sole pecuniary value of monument, nor the fact that a relic has been entrusted to a national or public institution, e.g. to a museum, should be decisive for the severity of penal sanction. Private collections or single monuments deserve the same protection. If the legislation is to differentiate the severity of penal sanction for such offences as the theft of a relic, its appropriation, destruction or damage to a relic, the severity of sanction should rather depend on the monument's importance for the cultural heritage and development due to its histororical, scientific or artistic properties. The monuments of importance from the above point of view and the monuments of considerable pecuniary value should be subject to an increased protection; besides, the type of an offence should in such cases be a qualified one. The present legislation concerning the penal law protection of monuments, especially as far as the offences against property are concerned, evokes reservations also because of numerous doubts arising in the course of practical application of the provisions in force. The difficulties appear e.g. with respect to archaeological monuments: according to Polish law archaeological discoveries and excavations become State property, yet the very notion of archeology and its time range are not uniformly defined. Besides, since the legal situation as to property rights to monuments at municipal, war or religious cemeteries is complicated, it is also difficult to determine the legal qualification of offences against those relics. However, the greatest difficulties emerge with respect to the recent spread of thefts of sacral monuments belonging to Roman-Catholic Church and to other religious unions. The final part of the article contains the proposals „de lege ferenda" aiming at regulating penal legislation in the discussed sphere and making it a more efficient tool, adequate to the requirements of the present time.



Digitalizacja i deponowanie archiwalnych zeszytów RPEiS sfinansowane przez MNiSW w ramach realizacji umowy nr 541/P-DUN/2016



Ruch Prawniczy, Ekonomiczny i Socjologiczny 49, 1987, z. 3, s. 75-102



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego