MEPs join State to save Dubliner, Ibrahim Halwa, from death penalty

On the eve of the trial of Irish-born Ibrahim Halawa, the European Parliament threw its weight behind the Government to save him from, potentially, the death penalty.

MEPs join State to save Dubliner, Ibrahim Halwa, from death penalty

The 20-year-old Dubliner is on hunger strike in a jail in Cairo and is due to appear in court tomorrow, with around 400 others in a mass trial where the authorities insist he is connected to the Muslim Brotherhood.

His sisters, Somaia and Omaima, were in the European Parliament in Strasbourg for the vote. They and another sister, Fatima, spent three months in jail after taking part in a protest following the overthrow of President Morsi in Cairo in August 2013. They were released after three months.

The two sisters were applauded by the MEPs when they were introduced to the house by Sinn Féin MEP Lynn Boylan before the vote yesterday. Eleven mostly far right members of the parliament voted against the statement calling for his immediate release, while 46 abstained.

Mr Halawa was 17 when he was arrested while in holiday in Cairo, and the Government has said he was a juvenile at the time and should not be facing the death penalty. They also point out that under the UN Declaration of Human Rights, he is entitled to a fair and public hearing which he will not get in a mass trial.

The statement, supported by 566 MEPs from all political parties, was proposed by Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly, calling on the Egyptian authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Mr Halawa.

The parliament reiterated that Egypt “is bound by indisputable international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they apply to Mr Halawa”.

It demands the Egyptian authorities “categorically rule out the threat of the death penalty if Ibrahim Halawa is convicted, given that he was arrested as a juvenile”.

The text calls on the European External Action Service, through the EU delegation in Cairo, as well as EU member states, to monitor all hearings in his trial and that of his co-defendants, and to continue providing him with their full legal, consular, and other forms of support.

“The very nature of mass trials is deeply concerning and has been widely recognised as a breach of Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law,” said Mr Kelly.

Ms Boylan said Ibrahim is on hunger strike, his condition is deteriorating rapidly, and called on the Dáil to pass a similar motion calling for his immediate release.

The Irish ambassador in Cairo has been representing the Government at the various hearings, and diplomats have visited him on 48 occasions, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

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