Repatriation of human remains

Maciej Wójtowicz made this Freedom of Information request to Museum of London

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The request was successful.

Maciej Wójtowicz

Dear Sir or Madam


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

Katie Ormerod, Museum of London

Dear Maciej Wójtowicz

Thank you for your enquiry regarding non-European human remains.

At the Museum of London we do not have any confirmed non-European human remains in our collection. We hold remains that may display traits of being non-European, either morphologically or via isotope analysis but any individuals we hold lived, died and were buried in the UK, and were archaeologically excavated as part of the development process, although they may have originally come from, or spent time in, other parts of the world.

We have not received any requests for repatriation either before or after the introduction of the Human Tissue Act 2004.

If you are dissatisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to ask for an internal review. Internal review requests should be submitted within two months of the date of receipt of this response to your original email and should be addressed to [email address].

If you are dissatisfied with the outcome or the conduct of the Museum’s internal review, you may seek an independent review from the Information Commissioner. Report your concern via the ICO website at or call their helpline 0303 123 1113.

Kind regards,

Katie Ormerod

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