Parliament initially passes amendments to Law of Antiquities

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Mon, 10 Feb 2020 - 02:13 GMT

Members of Parliament start voting on the proposed amendments to the 2014 Constitution- Egypt Today/Hazem abdel-Samad

Members of Parliament start voting on the proposed amendments to the 2014 Constitution- Egypt Today/Hazem abdel-Samad

CAIRO - 10 February 2020: The Egyptian Parliament initially passed the new amendments to the Law of Antiquities per which the crime of possessing or selling an artifact in abroad auctions is punishable by toughened imprisonment and paying a fine of LE 1 million.

At the General session of the Parliament, presided by Ali Abdel Aal on Sunday, the Parliament passed the amendments to Law No. 117 of 1983 and referred them to the State Council for its advisory opinion.

He who possesses or sells an Egyptian antiquity or a part of an Egyptian antiquity outside Egypt in any auction house shall be handed down a toughened punishment and be fined with at least LE 1 million.

As per the new amendments drafted by the government, if a person was found in any archeological site or a museum without getting permission of his/her presence, he/she shall be imprisoned for one month at least and be fined with not more than LE 100,000. The same penalty is also applicable to everyone who climbs an antiquity without getting permission for this act. The penalty will be doubled if these two acts are accompanied by debauchery or blasphemy against the state.

The Legislative Committee of the Parliament stated that the new amendments come within the Constitution as they aim at protecting the country’s antiquities from the common phenomenon of archaeological antiquities trafficking.

In July 2019, Egypt has called on the European countries' ambassadors to support it in recovering a bust of young Pharaoh Tutankhamun before being sold in Christie's auction house in London. However, it failed to stop auctioning the statue which was sold for £4.7m, according to the Guardian.

In 2015, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities and the Northampton Borough Council were at loggerheads over auctioning an ancient statue by Christie's. However, the Egyptian government failed to stop selling the statue.

Despite its failure in reclaiming smuggled artifacts, the government managed to get back some antiquities; in 2018, Egypt got three pieces from Luxor’s Valley of the Kings, which were smuggled out of the country in 1927. The pieces were captured by the American authorities after being offered for sale in a New York City auction house.

In 2018, the Egyptian authorities arrested a camel driver and another girl accused of helping two Danish tourists climb the Great Pyramid of Giza where they photographed themselves naked on top of the 139-meter pyramid.

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2 Egyptians arrested for helping tourists climb Pyramid

CAIRO - 13 December 2018: Egypt's Ministry of Interior arrested a camel driver and another girl accused of helping two Danish tourists climb the Great Pyramid of Giza. The tourists photographed themselves naked allegedly on top of the 139-meter pyramid. An investigation team was formed in cooperation with the Interior Ministry to investigate the issue.


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