EU role in Ibrahim Halawa case
Sir, – Since Ibrahim Halawa’s detention in Egypt began, the EU has granted €320 million to Egypt under the European Neighbourhood Instrument (ENI), which is managed by the EU’s Directorate General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations. A further €50 million has been made available to Egypt from the Neighbourhood Investment Facility. In the documents setting out the rationale for such support, we are informed, “the EU’s long-term objective is to support the building of a deep and sustainable democracy with accountable and transparent institutions, the respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the freedom of expression, assembly and association”.
Under the ENI, a new Single Support Framework for the period 2017-2020 is currently being prepared, and what are called “Egypt Partnership Priorities” are being revised. While maximum effort should continue to be exerted on the Egyptian front, every governmental and diplomatic effort should also be made to ensure that ENI funding to Egypt in the future will be made contingent on measurable improvements in the Egyptian judicial system, say through a demonstration of fair and timely judicial processes.
Ireland is contributing to an EU fund that exists to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms and which grants considerable funds (circa €100 million per year) to Egypt. Meanwhile Mr Halawa, an Irish and EU citizen, endures imprisonment without trial. Indeed, a strong argument can be made that Mr Halawa was arrested for merely exercising fundamental freedoms, ie freedom of expression, assembly and association, the promotion of which underpins ENI funding.
We have been assured that everything possible is being done by the Irish Government and diplomats. It would be good to receive assurance that the issue of ENI funding is being explored, and to receive an update on progress made thus far. If this avenue is not being pursued, why not? – Yours, etc,
Straffan, Co Kildare.
Sir, – Another day dawns in an Egyptian prison hospital for Ibrahim Halawa. Have we made a collective decision as a people that our beef exports to Egypt are more important than the life of an Irish citizen? Let’s recall our ambassador. – Yours, etc,
Gleann na gCaorach,
Co Átha Cliath.