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General Order 1A
Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities (1983)
Immovable Cultural Property
Moveable Cultural Property
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All U.S. Department of Defence personnel who participate in the Bright Star exercise in Eqypt should be aware that under the terms of the Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities, known as Law No. 117, enacted August 6, 1983 ("1983 LPA")l:

all antiquities
are strictly regulated and considered to be the property
       of the State
– except for certain types of charitable endowments.
       (1983 LPA, Article 6);

      ... with the exception of antiquities whose ownership or possession
         was already established at the time this law came into effect …
         the possession of antiquities shall be prohibited … [starting] from the
         date of the [implementation] of this law. (1983 LPA, Article 8);
     
      ... it is prohibited to trade in antiquities. (1983 LPA, Article 7);
         
       ... every person who unlawfully smuggles an antiquity outside the
         Republic or participates in such an act shall be liable to a prison term
          with hard labor and a fine of not less than 5,000 and not more than
           $50,000 [Egyptian] pounds.
(1983 LPA, Art. 41; and

       ... removal or detachment of a publicly owned or registered
         antiquity
from its place without the written permission of the [Egyptian]
         Antiquities Authority … or the [a]ppropriation of an antiquity and [the]
         unlawful disposal of it … shall be punishable by a prison term of not
         less than one and not more than two years and/or a fine of
         not less than 100 and not more than 500 [Egyptian] pounds.     
        
(1983 LPA, Art. 43).

                    

All archaeological material, ancient art and artifacts of any kind that are discovered or found within the Republic of Egypt is regulated cultural property.

Definitions
"An 'Antiquity' is any movable or immovable property that is a product of … the various civilization[s] or any of the arts, sciences, humanities and religions of the successive historical periods extending from prehistoric times down to a point one hundred years before the present. [An “Antiquity” must have archaeological or historical value] that symbolizes one of the various civilizations that have been established in the land of Egypt or that has a historical relation to it, [and includes] human and animal remains …."  (1983 LPA, Article 1)

"The Prime Minister, following recommendation by the Competent Minister of Cultural Affairs, may consider as an antiquity any immovable or movable property of historical, scientific, religious, artistic, or literary value …." (1983 LPA, Article 2)

Registry of Movable Property
"… [I]ndividuals in possession of antiquities shall notify the [Egyptian] Antiquities Authority of the antiquities in their possession within six months of [the implementation] of this law and shall safeguard them until they are registered by the Authority …. Anyone who fails to declare [antiquities] within the aforementioned period of time … shall be deemed to be an unlawful possessor."  (1983 LPA, Article 8)

Registry of Immovable Property
"Antiquities shall be registered by decision of the minister responsible for cultural affairs acting at the recommendation of the Board of Directors of the Organization. The decision by which an immovable antiquity is registered shall be duly communicated to the owner … and shall be published in the Official Gazette." (1983 LPA, Article 12)

Export restrictions are enforced at all Egyptian airports, ports and border crossings. Illegal removal ("smuggling") is strictly prohibited.

"[Disposition of antiquities may not] result in the removal of the antiquity outside the country." (1983 LPA, Article. 9)

"Antiquities may … be exhibited abroad for limited periods. This provision shall not apply to antiquities that are classified by the Board of Directors of the Organization as unique or particularly liable to damage." (1983 LPA, Article 10)

Ownership rights are few ... restrictions are many.

"All antiquities are considered to be public property – except for charitable endowments." (1983 LPA, Article 6)

"With the exception of antiquities whose ownership or possession was already established at the time this law came into effect … the possession of antiquities shall be prohibited … [starting] from the date of the [implementation] of this law." (1983 LPA, Article 8)

"A possessor of an antiquity may dispose of it in any manner whatsoever, provided he obtains, in advance, written approval from the [Egyptian Antiquities] Authority … and provided that disposition does not result in the removal of the antiquity outside the country." (1983 LPA, Article 9)

"In all cases the [Egyptian Antiquities] Authority shall have the right of pre-emption, in return for fair compensation, as regards the disposition of every antiquity. The Authority may also appropriate any antiquity at its discretion and recover, in return for fair compensation, every antiquity that has been detached from an immovable structure …." (1983 LPA, Article 9)

"As of the date of … this law['s implementation], it is prohibited to trade in antiquities." (1983 LPA, Article 7)

"Every person who fortuitously discovers a movable antiquity … shall notify the nearest administrative authority within forty-eight hours … and safeguard it until the [Egyptian Antiquities] Authority takes possession of it. Failing to do so shall be deemed to be … unauthorized possess[ion]." (1983 LPA, Article 24)

"All antiquities discovered by foreign archaeological excavation missions shall be state owned. However, the [Egyptian Antiquities] Authority may decide to reward outstanding missions … by donating some of the movable antiquities which they have uncovered to museums … designated by the missions concerned." (1983 LPA, Article 35)

"No prescriptive ownership [of antiquities] shall accrue to any individual or corporate entity by adverse possession … from the use of an archaeological site, land or structure of historical value …." (1983 LPA, Article 15)


Penalties and sanctions under the Egyptian Antiquities Law are harsh.

"Every person who unlawfully smuggles an antiquity outside the Republic or participates in such an act shall be liable to a prison term with hard labor and a fine of not less than 5,000 and not more than 50,000 [Egyptian] pounds. Moreover, the antiquity in question as well as any equipment, tools, machinery and vehicles used in the commission of the offense shall be confiscated …."  (1983 LPA, Article 41)

"Removal or detachment of a publicly owned or registered antiquity from its place without the written permission of the [Egyptian] Antiquities Authority … or the [a]ppropriation of an antiquity and [the] unlawful disposal of it … shall be punishable by a prison term of not less than one and not more than two years and/or a fine of not less than 100 and not more than 500 [Egyptian] pounds."  (1983 LPA, Article 43)



All U.S. service personnel or DoD contactors are subject to the Egyptian Law on the Protection of Antiquities, Law No. 117 while on Egyptian soil. This law may also be invoked by a federal prosecutor in the United States in support of a charge under the National Stolen Property Act* in the event that antiquities or heritage material of Egyptian origin are transported to the U.S.** Conviction under the National Stolen Property Act may subject those who possess or transport or transfer ownership or interest in the artifact in the United States to various penalties including fine and imprisonment, and may subject the artifact in question to criminal or civil forfeiture.

————————

* The National Stolen Property Act Title 18 U.S.C. §2315, makes it a crime to "receive [], possess [], . . . sell [], or dispose [] of any goods, wares, or merchandise . . . of the value of $ 5,000 or more, . . . which have crossed a State or United States boundary after being stolen, unlawfully converted, or taken, knowing the same to have been stolen, unlawfully converted, or taken . . ."

** Under two federal court precedents — United States of America versus McClain 545 F.2d 988 (5 th Cir. 1977); 593 F.2d (5th Cir. 1979) and United State of America versus Frederick Schultz 333 F.2d 393 (2nd Circuit 2003), affirmed by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals — a federal prosecutor in the United States may invoke, and a federal court judge in the United States may apply a foreign government's antiquities law, such as Afghanistan's Cultural Property Law for the purposes of establishing the rightful ownership of a smuggled artifact and seize the artifact under an order of forfeiture for eventual return to the source country.



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Zahi Hawass