Monday, July 1, 2013

Emergency Protection of Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act

The pillage of Egyptian cultural heritage continues. The latest news of ravaged archaeological sites comes from El Hibeh and Abu Sir Al Malaq where photos depict thrown-away bones and broken artifacts that mar ancient archaeological sites, a grisly byproduct of destructive digging by reckless looters. Political leaders must act.

The illegal trade in cultural heritage is a transnational, for-profit business that depends on moving looted objects to the market. The number of Egyptian cultural objects smuggled into the U.S. remains unknown. What is known is that the United States is a significant consumer of Egyptian cultural artifacts. Last year nearly 14% of all archaeological, historical, or ethnographic objects imported for consumption into the U.S.--as a percentage of the total customs value of all such imports--came from Egypt, making The Land of The Pharaohs the third top supplier of declared cultural goods entering America.

Just as Congress passed legislation targeting plundered Iraqi heritage, lawmakers should adopt similar legislation authorizing the President to implement emergency import protections covering at-risk Egyptian cultural heritage. Its language could mirror the language of the Emergency Protection of Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act:
Emergency Protection of Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act


(a) AUTHORITY- The President may exercise the authority of the President under section 304 of the Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Egypt without regard to whether Egypt is a State Party under that Act, except that, in exercising such authority, subsection (c) of such section shall not apply.

(b) DEFINITION- In this section, the term `archaeological or ethnological material of Egypt means cultural property of Egypt and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance illegally removed from locations in Egypt since [date to be agreed upon].

The authority of the President under section 3002(a) shall terminate five years from the date of enactment.
The passage of the Emergency Protection of Egyptian Cultural Antiquities Act would heighten American attention to the increasing cultural heritage crisis in Egypt and give federal law enforcement an additional tool to stop antiquities trafficking at the border.

Photo credit: exkrupier

This post is researched, written, and published on the blog Cultural Heritage Lawyer Rick St. Hilaire at Text copyrighted 2010-2013 by Ricardo A. St. Hilaire, Attorney & Counselor at Law, PLLC. Any unauthorized reproduction or retransmission of this post is prohibited. CONTACT INFORMATION: