Europe calls for release of Halawa from Egypt prison

EU parliament seeks Irish man’s immediate release and cites breach of human rights

EU parliament resolution demanding that death penalty be ruled out  if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted  passed yesterday by 566 votes to 11. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

EU parliament resolution demanding that death penalty be ruled out if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted passed yesterday by 566 votes to 11. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

The European Parliament has called for the immediate release of Irish man Ibrahim Halawa, who has been detained in Egypt for more than two years.

Mr Halawa, who turned 20 last Sunday, has been in prison since August 2013. He was arrested at the Fateh mosque in Cairo during protests against the ousting of then-president Mohamed Morsi. He and 419 others are awaiting a mass trial, which was adjourned for the 10th time this week.

In a resolution passed by 566 votes to 11, with 46 abstentions, the parliament demanded Egypt “categorically rule out the threat of the death penalty if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted, given that he was arrested as a juvenile”. It said that as Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested, Egypt was bound by international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The text called on the European External Action Service, through the EU delegation in Cairo and “EU member states, notably Ireland”, to monitor all hearings in his trial and that of his co-defendants and to continue providing full legal, consular and other forms of support.

The resolution was supported by Irish MEPs from Fine Gael, and Sinn Féin as well as the three independents. Fianna Fáil’s Brian Crowley did not vote. The text expresses “deep concern” about the “unacceptable breach of basic human rights arising from the arbitrary detention” of Mr Halawa and calls for his immediate and unconditional release to the Irish authorities on foot of a presidential decree issued in November 2014 under Egyptian law 140.

It voices “extreme concern” about the “failure . . . to provide a fair trial” for Mr Halawa and his co-defendants, in particular the lack of opportunity to review or challenge their continued detention and the charges against them, “repeated denial of access to lawyers” and the “excessive pre-trial detention period”, which the parliament said violated Egypt’s domestic and international obligations.

The resolution noted Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan had expressed disappointment about the continuous adjournment of the case and that Irish officials had attended all hearings and paid 48 consular visits to Mr Halawa. This underlined the importance the Government attached to the case, it stated.

Mr Halawa’s lawyers have appealed for his release and repatriation under the presidential decree, but the Government says Egypt has indicated to it that it will only be willing to consider applying the decree when the trial is formally concluded.

Charges against the 420 accused, reduced from 494, range from murder and attempted murder to taking part in a banned protest. Mr Halawa is charged with the latter.