Practice Relating to Rule 40. Respect for Cultural Property
Poland’s Law on the Safeguard of Cultural Property (1962) defines cultural property:
Cultural property in the meaning of the present Law is every object, movable or immovable, old or contemporary, of importance for the cultural heritage and development, because of its historical, scientific or artistic value.
The Law further states: “The safeguarding of cultural property consists in protecting it against destruction, pillage, devastation, disappearance or carrying abroad.”
Poland’s Order on the Protection of Cultural Property (1995) states:
3.1. The protection of cultural property in situations of threat to the security of the State and of armed conflict in relation to:
1) movable cultural property consists in:
a) placing and securing it against destruction in shelters within the organizational unit and organizing appropriate protection;
b) dispersing it among pre-planned shelters in the surroundings of their normal exposition;
c) evacuating it to pre-planned shelters if in the surroundings there are no possibilities to shelter it or in case of direct danger of hostilities;
d) sheltering of the most precious objects abroad;
2) immovable property consists in:
- conducting an inventory and documentation, as well as technical and engineering works.
The Order further states:
6.1. Plans for the protection of cultural property in situations of threat to the security of the State and of armed conflict shall be prepared at the level of organizational units, of voivodships [provinces] and of the State.
2. These plans constitute part of the plans of civil defence.
3. The plan for the protection of cultural property in situations of threat to the security of the State and of armed conflict shall consist of two parts:
1) the plan for the protection of movable cultural property;
2) the plan for securing immovable cultural property.
7. Plans for the protection of cultural property shall be co-ordinated with the respective Inspectorate of Civil Defence.
Poland’s Penal Code (1997) provides:
1. Any person who, in violation of international law, destroys, damages or pillages cultural property in occupied or controlled territory or in combat area, shall be punished with imprisonment for a time from one year to ten years.
2. If the offence is directed against cultural property of particular importance, the perpetrator shall be punished with imprisonment for a time not shorter than three years.
Poland’s Act on the Protection and Preservation of Historical Buildings and Monuments (2003) states:
1. The minister responsible for culture and preservation of national heritage matters shall develop the national programme for preservation and protection of historical buildings and monuments in the event of an armed conflict or crisis situation and coordinate the implementation of tasks aimed to safeguard historical buildings and monuments against the effects of threats ensuing from crisis situations.
2. The minister responsible for culture and preservation of national heritage matters shall, by issuing a regulation, determine the manner and methods of preservation of historical buildings and monuments to be used in the event of an armed conflict or crisis situation by indicating the method of carrying out the preservation works, and also considering the duties of competent administration bodies and organizational units maintaining the ownership of historical buildings and monuments.
3. The minister responsible for culture and preservation of national heritage matters shall submit to the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation an application for the entry in the International Register of Cultural Property under Special Protection
with a view to ensuring protection thereof in accordance with the Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict signed on 14 May 1954 in the Hague (Journal of Laws of the Republic of Poland of 2003, No. 46, item 212).
Poland’s Regulation on the Protection of Historic Monuments in the Event of an Armed Conflict or State of Emergency (2004) states:
1. The protection of historic monuments in the event of an armed conflict or state of emergency shall comprise planning, development and implementation of preventive, documentary, protective, emergency and maintenance measures designed to preserve such property against damage, destruction or loss.
2. Measures specified under subparagraph 1 above shall be implemented by means of:
1) prevention and introduction of preparatory measures – in time preceding the occurrence of an armed conflict or state of emergency;
2) emergency readiness – introduced in time of increasing, imminent and direct danger by appropriate emergency management authorities …;
3) responding – in time of occurrence and duration of an armed conflict or state of emergency;
4) safeguarding and documentation – upon cessation of hostilities.
4. Should an armed conflict or state of emergency occur, and should certain envisaged protection measures be incomplete, the head of an organizational unit in whose custody particular historic monuments are placed, shall make every effort to safeguard them against destruction, damage or loss.
5. Protection plans shall be developed according to “Instruction of Preparation and Implementation of Historic Monuments Protection Plans in the event of an Armed Conflict or State of Emergency”, annexed hereto.