Text: H.R.5703 — 113th Congress (2013-2014)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in House (11/13/2014)


113th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5703


To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

November 13, 2014

Mr. Engel (for himself and Mr. Smith of New Jersey) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, and in addition to the Committees on Ways and Means, Armed Services, and the Judiciary, for a period to be subsequently determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned


A BILL

To protect and preserve international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act”.

SEC. 2. Definition.

In this Act:

(1) APPROPRIATE CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEES.—The term “appropriate congressional committees” means the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate.

(2) CULTURAL PROPERTY.—The term “cultural property” has the meaning given in Article 1(a)–1(c) of the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, concluded at The Hague on May 14, 1954 (Treaty Doc. 106–1(A)).

SEC. 3. Findings and statement of policy.

(a) Findings.—Congress finds the following:

(1) Protecting international cultural property is a vital part of United States cultural diplomacy, showing the respect of the United States for other cultures and the common heritage of humanity.

(2) International cultural property has been lost, damaged, or destroyed due to political instability, armed conflict, natural disasters, and other threats.

(3) In Egypt, recent political instability has led to the ransacking of its museums, resulting in the destruction of countless ancient artifacts that will forever leave gaps in humanity’s record of the ancient Egyptian civilization.

(4) In Iraq, after the fall of Saddam Hussein, thieves looted the Iraq Museum in Baghdad, resulting in the loss of approximately 15,000 items. These included ancient amulets, sculptures, ivories, and cylinder seals. Many of these items remain unrecovered.

(5) In Syria, the ongoing civil war has resulted in the shelling of medieval cities, damage to five UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the looting of museums and archaeological sites. Archaeological and historic sites and artifacts in Syria date back more than six millennia and include some of the earliest examples of writing.

(6) In Iraq and Syria, the militant group ISIS/ISIL has destroyed cultural sites and artifacts, such as the Tomb of Jonah in July 2014, in an effort to eradicate ethnic and religious minorities from contested territories. Concurrently, cultural antiquities that escape demolition are looted and illicitly trafficked to help fund ISIS/ISIL’s militant operations.

(7) In Mali, the Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorist group Ansar Dine destroyed tombs and shrines in the ancient city of Timbuktu—a major center for trade, scholarship, and Islam in the 15th and 16th centuries—and threatened collections of ancient manuscripts.

(8) In Afghanistan, the Taliban decreed that the Bamiyan Buddhas, ancient statues carved into a cliff side in central Afghanistan, were to be destroyed. In 2001 the Taliban carried out their threat and destroyed the statues, leading to worldwide condemnation.

(9) In Cambodia, following the Khmer Rouge’s seizure of power in 1975 the Khmer Rouge systematically destroyed many of Cambodia’s Buddhist temples, desecrated statues, and destroyed Buddhist literature. The Khmer Rouge also destroyed mosques and nearly every Catholic church existing in the country.

(10) In China, during the Cultural Revolution much of China’s antiques were destroyed, including a large portion of old Beijing. Chinese authorities are now attempting to rebuild portions of China’s lost architectural heritage.

(11) In Haiti, the 2010 earthquake destroyed art, artifacts, and archives important to the people of Haiti, and partially destroyed the 17th century Haitian city of Jacmel.

(12) The 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami not only affected eleven countries, causing massive loss of life, but also damaged or destroyed libraries, archives, and UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Mahabalipuram in India, the Sun Temple of Koranak on the Bay of Bengal, and the Old Town of Galle and its Fortifications in Sri Lanka.

(13) The destruction of these and other cultural properties represents an irreparable loss of humanity’s common cultural heritage and is therefore a loss for all Americans.

(14) The United States Armed Forces have played important roles in preserving and protecting cultural property. On June 23, 1943, President Franklin D. Roosevelt established the American Commission for the Protection and Salvage of Artistic and Historic Monuments in War Areas to provide expert advice to the military on the protection of cultural property. The Commission formed Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives (MFAA) teams which became part of the Civil Affairs Division of Military Government Section of the Allied armies. The individuals serving in the MFAA were known as the “Monuments Men” and have been credited with securing, cataloguing, and returning hundreds of thousands works of art stolen by the Nazis during World War II.

(15) The U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield was founded in 2006 to support the implementation of the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and to coordinate with the United States military, other branches of the United States Government, and other cultural heritage nongovernmental organizations in preserving international cultural property threatened by political instability, armed conflict, natural, or other disasters.

(b) Statement of policy.—It shall be the policy of the United States to—

(1) protect and preserve international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters;

(2) protect international cultural property pursuant to its obligations under the 1954 Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict and customary international law in all conflicts to which the United States is a party;

(3) prevent, in accordance with existing laws, importation of cultural property pillaged, looted, or stolen during political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(4) ensure that existing laws and regulations, including import restrictions imposed through the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) of the Department of the Treasury, are fully implemented to prevent the trafficking in stolen or looted cultural property.

SEC. 4. White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection.

The President shall appoint a White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection. The Coordinator shall—

(1) coordinate and promote efforts to address international cultural property protection activities that involve multiple Federal agencies, including diplomatic activities, military activities, law enforcement activities, import restrictions, and the work of the Cultural Antiquities Task Force established pursuant to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2004 (Public Law 108–199);

(2) submit to the appropriate congressional committees an annual report on interagency efforts to protect international cultural property based on information required under section 5 of this Act;

(3) provide policy recommendations, if necessary;

(4) resolve interagency differences in a timely, efficient, and effective manner; and

(5) work and consult with domestic and international actors such as foreign governments, nongovernmental organizations, museums, educational institutions, research institutions, and the U.S. Committee of the Blue Shield on efforts to promote and protect international cultural property.

SEC. 5. Information on activities to protect international cultural property.

(a) Information on activities of the Department of State To protect international cultural property.—The Secretary of State shall submit to the White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection information on efforts of the Department of State to protect international cultural property, including—

(1) activities undertaken pursuant to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, including—

(A) procedures the Department has instituted to protect international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(B) actions the Department has taken to protect international cultural property in conflicts to which the United States is a party; and

(2) actions the Department has taken to protect international cultural property pursuant to other cultural property protection statutes, international agreements, or policies.

(b) Information on activities of USAID To protect international cultural property.—The Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) shall submit to the White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection information on efforts of USAID to protect international cultural property, including activities and coordination with other Federal agencies, international organizations, and nongovernmental organizations regarding the protection of international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political unrest, armed conflict, natural or other disasters, and USAID development programs.

(c) Information on activities of the Department of Defense To protect international cultural property.—The Secretary of Defense shall submit to the White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection information on efforts of the Department of Defense to protect international cultural property, including activities undertaken pursuant to the Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict, other cultural protection statutes, and international agreements, including—

(1) directives, policies, and regulations the Department has instituted to protect international cultural property at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters; and

(2) actions the Department has taken to protect international cultural property, including actions to avoid damage to cultural property through construction activities abroad.

(d) Information on activities of the Department of Justice To protect international cultural property.—The Attorney General, in consultation with the Secretary of Homeland Security, shall submit to the White House Coordinator for International Cultural Property Protection information on efforts of the Department of Justice to protect both international cultural property and international cultural property located in, or attempted to be imported into, the United States, including activities undertaken pursuant to statutes and international agreements. Such information shall include the—

(1) statutes and regulations the Department has employed in criminal, civil, and civil forfeiture actions to prevent and interdict trafficking in stolen and smuggled cultural property, including investigations into transnational organized crime; and

(2) actions the Department has taken in order to ensure the consistent and effective application of law in cases relating to both international cultural property and international cultural property located in, or attempted to be imported into, the United States.

SEC. 6. Authorization for Federal agencies To engage in international cultural property protection activities with the Smithsonian Institution.

(a) In general.—Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, USAID, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, the Department of the Interior, the National Archives, the National Science Foundation, and any other agency that is involved in international cultural property protection activities are authorized to enter into agreements or memoranda of understanding with the Smithsonian Institution to temporarily engage personnel from the Smithsonian Institution for the purposes of furthering such international cultural property protection activities.

(b) Salaries and expenses.—The Federal agencies or departments specified in subsection (a) are authorized to pay the salaries and expenses of personnel from the Smithsonian Institution to assist such agencies or departments in their international cultural property protection activities, including in support of military or diplomatic missions and law enforcement efforts.

SEC. 7. Grantmaking authorization for the Secretary of State for international cultural property protection activities.

The Secretary of State is authorized to make grants to private individuals or organizations for the purposes of international cultural property protection activities in areas at risk of destruction due to political instability, armed conflict, or natural or other disasters.

SEC. 8. Emergency protection for Syrian cultural property.

(a) Presidential determination.—Notwithstanding subsection (b) of section 304 of the Convention on the Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2603) (relating to a Presidential determination that an emergency condition applies with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of any State Party to the Convention), the President shall apply the import restrictions referred to in such section 304 with respect to any archaeological or ethnological material of Syria as if Syria were a State Party to such Convention, except that subsection (c) of such section 304 shall not apply. Such import restrictions shall take effect not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of this Act.

(b) Definitions.—In this section—

(1) the term “archaeological or ethnological material of Syria” means cultural property of Syria and other items of archaeological, historical, cultural, rare scientific, or religious importance unlawfully removed from Syria on or after August 18, 2011; and

(2) the term “State Party” has the meaning given such term in section 302 of the Convention on the Cultural Property Implementation Act (19 U.S.C. 2601).