Repatriation of human remains

The request was refused by The British Museum.

Maciej Wójtowicz

Dear Sir or Madam

REPATRIATION OF HUMAN REMAINS

I am carrying out some research into the storage, retention and repatriation of non-European ethnological human remains held in UK museums. To assist with this could you please let me have the following information under the Freedom of Information Act. All of these questions relate to human remains that are under 1,000 years of age:

1. How many non-European human remains do you have in your collection? If you do not have the exact number, then please provide an approximation based on your normal method of counting.

2. How many requests for the repatriation of non-European human remains did you receive from communities, individuals or institutions outside of Europe prior to the Human Tissue Act 2004 coming into force? Of these how many were approved?

3. How many requests for the repatriation of human remains have you had from communities, individuals or institutions outside of Europe since the Human Tissue Act 2004 came into force?

4. Of these requests, how many were:
a. Approved in full, with all of the requested remains being returned to the communities/individuals in question.
b. Approved in part with some of the requested remains being returned.
c. Not approved.
d. Still awaiting a decision.

5. For those requests which were not approved please provide a copy of the final decision letter setting out the reasons.

Thanking you in advance for your assistance in this matter.

Yours faithfully

Maciej Wójtowicz

Info, The British Museum

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Christopher Denvir, The British Museum

1 Attachment

Dear Maciej Wójtowicz,

Please see attached acknowledgement of your request.

Kind regards

Legal Services
The British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
britishmuseum.org

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Christopher Denvir, The British Museum

1 Attachment

Dear Maciej Wójtowicz,

 

 

Please see attached response to your request.

 

Kind regards

 

Legal Services

 

The British Museum

Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

britishmuseum.org

 

The security classification of this message is OFFICIAL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dear Christopher

Thanks for the prompt reply and for the links to information on your website. I do not believe that you have released the information requested so would ask you to check again before I request an internal review. I know that you have been in correspondence with the Haida Nation Band Council on the return of at least one human remain and that there is an ongoing disagreement with them on the return of associated burial materials.

It would be very helpful if you could look into this and let me have a confirmation as to the status of this request and a link to associated correspondence.

Yours sincerely,

Maciej Wójtowicz

Christopher Denvir, The British Museum

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

 

Please see attached correspondence.

 

Kind regards

 

 

 

Legal Services

 

The British Museum

Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG

britishmuseum.org

 

The security classification of this message is OFFICIAL

 

 

show quoted sections

Dear Christopher

Thank you for your reply and for the clarification. I have to say that I am disappointed with the approach you have taken to the provision of information for this research. I am collating responses from 500 organisations in the UK including all national and regional museums, local authorities, universities and private collections. All of them have cooperated willingly and only the British Museum has relied on an exemption to try to obstruct the research.

You have pointed me towards your collections online system but I know for a fact that your curators know how many human remains you have in the collection - the curators always know and I have to wonder why you won’t simply tell me rather than requiring me to do prolonged work to get the numbers.

Could you please refer this request for an interval review and perhaps consider that the reliance on legal exemptions does not necessarily show the British Museum in a good light when it comes to the respectful handling of issues relating to ancestral human remains or the furtherance of knowledge via academic research.

Yours sincerely,

Maciej Wójtowicz

Christopher Denvir, The British Museum

1 Attachment

Dear Sir,

Please see attached correspondence.

Kind regards.

The British Museum
Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG
britishmuseum.org
[The British Museum request email]

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