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Import Restrictions Implemented on Iraqi Coins

A cultural antiquities protection act passed as an "emergency" measure in 2004 is just now being implemented by State Department bureaucrats.

By Peter K. Tompa |
May 12, 2008

On April 30, 2008, the State Department and US Customs finally announced "emergency import restrictions" under the "Emergency Protection for Iraqi Cultural Antiquities Act of 2004." See http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2008/apr/104224.htm and Federal Register, April 30, 2008 http://edocket.access.gpo.gov/2008/pdf/E8-9343.pdf. The numismatic community had opposed this legislation because it granted the State Department and US Customs discretion to impose "emergency import restrictions" on coins without the usual opportunity for public comment or review by the Cultural Property Advisory Committee. That it took the State Department and US Customs some four years to implement the restrictions belies the claim made at the time and repeated in the Federal Register notice announcing the restrictions that "providing prior notice and public procedure for these regulations would be impracticable, unnecessary, and contrary to the public interest because immediate action is necessary...." (See Fed. Reg. 4/30/08 at 23341.)


Other more general and less controversial restrictions under other statutory authority were in place before these new "emergency restrictions" were announced. As implemented, the new emergency restrictions give US Customs broad discretion to detain any and all Iraqi cultural property from pre-historic times to the 20th c. The designated list includes Persian, Hellenistic, Parthian and Islamic coins as well as such unlikely items as Torahs and 20th c. modern art. The best that can be said of this regulatory monstrosity is that under the authorizing legislation the restrictions should lapse on or before September 29, 2009.

Tags:
state department
cpac
import restrictions
iraq

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