IF our membership of the European Union is to mean anything beyond free trade, cheaper flights, and enhanced consumer rights, perhaps it is time for the Irish government to seek a collective bloc response to the continued incarceration of Ibrahim Halawa, whose trial in Cairo has been postponed for the 27th time.
Ibrahim, an Irish citizen and, by extension, an EU national, has now spent more than 33 months in prison in violation
of both Egyptian and international human rights law. His continuing detention was condemned last year by a European Parliament resolution, supported by 98% of MEPs,
including all of Ireland’s MEPs.
Despite diplomatic efforts by the Irish embassy in Cairo and the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin, Ibrahim continues to be incarcerated in the most appalling conditions and there is grave concern for both his physical and mental health.
It is clear that a small country like Ireland simply does not have the clout to make the Egyptian authorities see sense — but the EU does. Egypt is a major trading partner with the EU in the southern Mediterranean region and enjoys free trade with the bloc dating from agreements signed in 2004 and 2010. That gives the EU economic and diplomatic leverage.
It is time for Brussels to vindicate the rights of an EU citizen and bring an end to Ibrahim’s harrowing ordeal.
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