The Egyptian Government has submitted a draft law to establish the General Authority for National Records and Archives, in order to prohibit the transfer of historical documents outside the country.
Establishing the Authority in Article 13 permits the competent minister, the Prime Minister, upon the request of the Authority’s Board of Directors, to decide that any document held by individuals, bodies, or legal persons, public or private, is of national or historical value.
The article states that in this case, the holder of the document is responsible for preserving it in its original form. This is valid from the date of being informed of the decision by a registered letter, accompanied by an acknowledgment of receipt or any other official means.
The holder of the document is also prohibited from transferring it outside Egypt or disposing of it in any way except with a licence from the competent minister. When disposing of it, the owner must inform the administrator in writing that the document is of national or historical value. In all cases, the provisions of the relevant laws must be observed.
It is noteworthy that the legislative committee at the House of Representatives, headed by Ibrahim El-Huneidi, initially approved the law. It also prepared a report on it to be presented to the plenary session of the parliament.
The committee indicated in its report that the bill implements the constitutional entitlement, as Article 68 of the Constitution stipulates that information, data, statistics, and official documents belong to the people.
Their disclosure from their various sources is a right guaranteed by the state for every citizen. The state is obliged to provide and make these items available to citizens with transparency.
The law shall regulate the controls for obtaining the disclosure, its availability, its confidentiality, the rules for its deposit and preservation, and the grievance against the refusal to give it.
It also determines the penalty for withholding information or deliberately giving false information. State institutions are obliged to deposit official documents after the end of their work period at the National Library and Archives.
This is with a view to protect and secure them from loss or damage, and to restore and digitise them with all modern means and tools in accordance with the law.
It also provides for the establishment of the General Authority for the National Library and Archives, which enjoys an independent legal personality and reports to the competent minister.
The authority’s headquarters shall be located in Cairo, and has been permitted to establish branches in the governorates.