Egypt's parliament is set to change the law to implement harsher jail sentences and stiffer fines for smuggling ancient artefacts out of the country, and to criminalize abusing or climbing the country’s monuments.
During a meeting on Tuesday, Parliament's legislative and constitutional affairs committee approved the addition of a new article to the existing law on the protection of antiquities (law no 117 of 1983), stipulating that those who are found in possession of or who sell antiquities abroad without official documentation will be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than EGP 1 million and not more than EGP 10 million.
The amendments also include a new article that punishes anyone found in an archaeological site or museum or climbing any antiquity without obtaining a license with at least one month’s imprisonment and/or a fine of not less than EGP 10,000 and not more than EGP 100,000. The penalty will be doubled if the acts are associated with violations of public decency.
"The amendments aim at stopping thuggish acts toward Egyptian antiquities," Suzy Nashed, a member of the committee, said during the meeting.
Ahmed Maher, an advisor to the antiquities minister, said that these amendments aim to protect Egyptian artefacts after recent abusive practices, the latest of which was the climbing of one of the pyramids of Giza by a foreign person who committed a “negative deed.”
Maher added that no one has the right to enter any archaeological site without permission or a ticket.