Detention of Ibrahim Halawa a human rights issue, says SF

Lynn Boylan claims Minister for Foreign Affairs not doing enough to secure release

Omaima (left) Fatima and Somaia Halawa sisters of Ibrahim Halawa who is being detained in Egypt. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

Omaima (left) Fatima and Somaia Halawa sisters of Ibrahim Halawa who is being detained in Egypt. Photograph: Aidan Crawley

 

A call has been made for Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to ask the Australian government how they succeeded in having Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste released from an Egyptian jail and to follow their example for Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa.

Sinn Féin Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan claimed the Minister was not doing everything in his power to have the now 19-year-old Irish citizen released after almost 18 months in prison following his arrest with his three sisters during protests against the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood.

His sisters were released shortly afterwards.

Ms Boylan said the teenager had come before the Egyptian courts three times along with hundreds of other prisoners.

“These mass trials do not allow legal representation for all of the accused,” he said.

“Three times he and his family have got their hopes up, hoping that the judge would see sense and come to the same conclusion as human rights organisations” but the trial has been postponed each time.

Reprieve and Amnesty International had investigated his case and had come to the conclusion that he had no case to answer.

Mr Halawa shared a cell for a number of months with Mr Greste, one of three Al Jazeera journalists released.

Ms Boylan told delegates: “I don’t believe for one minute that Minister Flanagan is doing everything in his power to bring Ibrahim home.”

She said: “I have this message for the Minister. If this was your son Charlie, would he still be in prison?

“Here is my advice Minister: pick up the phone and phone the Australian government and ask them how it’s done because clearly you are failing.”

The party passed an emergency motion calling on the Minister to acknowledge that Mr Halawa’s continued incarceration “is not an issue of legal due process and is in fact a human rights issue”.

It asks the Minister to formally request of the Egyptian government and president that Ibrahim be released in the interests of continuing good relations between Ireland and Egypt.