Saturday, 14 May 2011

US Archaeological Institute Urges US Import Controls to Curb Egypt Looting


A delegation of individuals representing US associations and foundations interested in safeguarding Egypt’s antiquities from theft will visit Cairo from 16 to 19 May. Headed by Deborah Lehr, president of the Capitol Archaeological Institute at George Washington University, the delegation is working with the relevant Egyptian bodies to investigate how to stop organized theft at archaeological sites and preserve the shared human heritage of Egypt’s past. On March 15, 2011, UNESCO called for international mobilization to block the trade in cultural artefacts stolen from Egypt. The Institute has posted the call to action on its web page and encourages US readers to sign the online version of the petition. Recognizing that the market in undocumented and illicit artefacts is the motor of looting and smuggling, the GW Capitol Archaeological Institute urges the President and U.S. Congress to:

• Direct the Department of Homeland Security and other law enforcement agencies to use their authority to prevent illegal trade in Egyptian cultural objects;
• Direct the Department of State and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency to implement import restrictions on undocumented artifacts from Egypt;
• Direct the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security Investigations to coordinate with foreign counterparts to initiate targeted law enforcement operations to seize stolen cultural property, arrest criminals and seize and confiscate proceeds; and
• Direct the U.S. Agency for International Development to grant additional funds for protection at archaeological sites.
In addition, the Institute encourages the International Criminal Police Organization to use its telecommunications system with respect to possible crimes involving Egyptian cultural property and to identify suspicious financial transactions which can lead to the freezing and confiscation of proceeds. It also urges the U.S. Congress to designate funds for the protection of Egyptian antiquities as part of its economic aid package.

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