Draft law amending Protection of Antiquities Law to be approved next week

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Wed, 04 Jul 2018 - 07:45 GMT

Ancient antiquities seized by the police before smuggling from Minya, Upper Egypt - Press photo on April 24, 2018

Ancient antiquities seized by the police before smuggling from Minya, Upper Egypt - Press photo on April 24, 2018

CAIRO – 4 July 2018: The government-drafted law that amends some provisions of Law No. 117 of 1983, known as the Protection of Antiquities Law, will be approved next week, according to Advisor of the Minister of Antiquities for Legal affairs, Ahmed Maher.

In a statement to Al-Akhbar El-Youm newspaper, Maher said that after the draft law is amended during a meeting of the board of directors of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, it will be sent to the State Council to be legally revised.

He referred that the "Protection of Antiquities Law" includes 199 articles, and that most of them were amended.

“Whoever steals a state owned or a registered antiquity or part of such for the purpose of smuggling shall be punished by imprisonment and by a mulct not less than LE 50,000 and not more than LE 500,000. Except for the mulct penalty, whoever hides an antiquity or part of such for the purpose of smuggling shall be punished by an imprisonment sentence not exceeding 7 years,” according to Article 42 of the Protection of Antiquities Law.

The draft Law, therefore, amends Article 42 to be "whoever steals, possesses, hides and collects an antiquity for the purpose of smuggling or is involved in such act shall be punished with life imprisonment and a fine not less than LE 50,000 ($2,821) and not more than LE 250,000. In the same context, whoever steals a state-owned or registered antiquity or part of such while being aware of his/her involvement in such act shall be punished by heavy imprisonment and a fine of not less than LE 50,000 and not more than LE 100,000."

Additionally, according to Article 45 of the law, whoever intentionally destroys, damages, or spoils an immovable or movable antiquity or separates of such or digs to possess an antiquity without license or is involved in such act shall be punished by imprisonment for a period not more than one year and by a mulct of not less than LE 1,000 and not more than LE 50,000. Under the draft law, the above-mentioned crime shall be punished with life imprisonment.

Under the new amendments, the Supreme Council of Antiquities (SCA) shall remove violations found at archaeological sites and set regulations for the activities on these sites.

During the plenary session, Minister of Antiquities Khaled al-Enani said that the amendments include deterrent penalties to fully protect the antiquities in Egypt.

The problem of the illicit excavation of archaeological sites in the hope of finding antiquities that can then be sold abroad has been growing in Egypt since the January 25 Revolution. The government has exerted many efforts to combat antiquities smuggling.

Minister of Antiquities Enani said in a statement in December that 329 ancient coins were seized with an Egyptian passenger at Cairo International Airport while trying to smuggle them to France.

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