Human rights body ‘deeply concerned’ about Halawa situation

European Parliament resolution demands unconditional release of Irish man

Ibrahim Halawa has been detained  in Egypt for more than two years.

Ibrahim Halawa has been detained in Egypt for more than two years.

 

The Human Rights and Equality Commission has said it is “deeply concerned” about the situation of Ibrahim Halawa, a 20-year-old Irish man who has been detained in Egypt for more than two years.

Mr Halawa, from Firhouse in Dublin, has been in prison since August 2013, when 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 statement on Friday, the commission said the circumstances of Mr Halawa’s arrest and ongoing detention gave rise to “a number of serious human rights issues”. These related, among other things, to the circumstances of his arrest and detention as a minor, his lack of access to justice and right to fair trial, and his right to freedom from torture and inhuman or degrading treatment.

“The commission welcomes the European Parliament resolution passed (on Thursday) calling for Ibrahim’s immediate and unconditional release to the Irish authorities, on foot of a presidential decree issued in November 2014,” it stated. The commission also asked the Government “to continue to press with urgency at the highest level for Ibrahim Halawa’s human rights under international law to be upheld”.

The European Parliament’s resolution, which passed by 566 votes to 11, with 46 abstentions, demanded that Egypt immediately and unconditionally release Mr Halawa on foot of a presidential decree issued in November 2014 under Egyptian law 140.

It demanded that Cairo “categorically rule out the threat of the death penalty if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted, given that he was arrested as a juvenile” and said Egypt was bound by international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The resolution was supported by Irish MEPs from Fine Gael and Sinn Féin as well as the three independents. Brian Crowley did not vote.

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 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.

The mass trial is due to begin on Saturday.