Freedom for Halawa?

There was great unrest in Egypt in August 2013 following the removal from office of President Morsi. Ibrahim Halawa was aged just 17 and had just finished his Leaving Certificate in Dublin. Ibrahim is an Irish citizen, his family having originated from Egypt. He was holidaying with his sisters in their family’s homeland when they partook in a protest, objecting to the impeachment of President Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (the religion of the Halawa family). Ibrahim and his sisters were arrested. His sisters were subsequently released. Now, over 3 years on, 21 year old Ibrahim remains incarcerated in an Egyptian prison.

Over 400 other prisoners arrested with Halawa are also awaiting the mass trial for charges such as murder and attempted murder. The trial has now been postponed 20 times.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan has expressed that he was “disappointed and frustrated” by the repeated postponement of the trial and stated

“this is a source of great concern to the Irish Government.”

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Amnesty International have requested his release on multiple occasions. Amnesty have commented:

“This young Irish citizen has been through a horrific experience. He’s been imprisoned without trial for almost four years and endured 20 trial delays.

A major issue appears to be that even the Egyptian government are powerless in this situation, as they can’t infringe on the jurisdiction of the judicial system and request Mr. Halawas release. Charlie Flanagan discussed Halawa with his Egyptian counterpart who stressed they want the matter resolved but can’t interfere. Dara Murphy TD of Fine Gael has commented that the now President, President Sisi has said he doesn’t have power until the trial has concluded.

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Ibrahim Halawa (Image: Free Ibrahim Halawa Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pg/FreeIbrahimHalawa/photos/?ref=page_internal

TD Gerry Adams commented:

“Ibrahim appeared in court earlier this week in a wheelchair. It is also believed he is suffering greatly as a result of ulceration of the skin due to fly-bites,”

“Ibrahim is very sick. After more than three years, the Egyptian state has failed to produce any evidence against Ibrahim.”

At the time of his arrest, it has been alleged that Halawa was in a Mosque and therefore it has been submitted that he couldn’t have perpetrated the crimes of which he is accused. A review of CCTV of the protest was carried out and no evidence has been found against Halawa.

Darragh O’ Brien TD, a Fianna Fail Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, who this year visited Halawa in prison along with other TDs, has expressed he is ‘hopeful, more than confident that the trial will soon come to a close.

Halawa was previously being detained in a military detention centre which had exceeded capacity and treated brutally. He has since been moved to a low security prison, after the Irish government put pressure on the Egyptians. Ibrahim Halawa is reportedly now on hunger strike and has been hospitalized on occasion due to his deteriorating health status. It has been reported that he is now being sustained by glucose injections.

Ibrahim’s family have repeatedly reached out to the government asking for them to do more and this week fronted a vigil outside Leinster House for him.

Such an atrocity seems an undoubted breach of this young man’s human rights. This of course would not have been the case had Halawa been arrested in Ireland for example, as he could rely on the Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights to vindicate his fundamental human rights. However, it appears it will continue to be a waiting game, and no progress will be made until his trial has finally taken place. It is scheduled again for 26th April.

(Featured Image: Stock Image – Unsplash)

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