British lawyers call on Egypt to release Irish student Ibrahim Halawa

August 17, 2016

Ibrahim Halawa, a student from Dublin, was among hundreds of people arrested three years ago Wednesday in Cairo, as the Egyptian army broke up protests. He faces the death penalty in a mass trial with 493 others, and is being tried in an adult court despite being 17 years old at the time of his arrest. The proceedings have been repeatedly postponed over three years, during which time Ibrahim has reported frequent torture.

In a report released on Wednesday, an influential committee of British lawyers said it was “gravely concerned” by Ibrahim Halawa’s case, which it said constitutes a serious breach of international law.

In its report, the Bar Human Rights Committee called for the “immediate transfer” of Mr Halawa to his home country.

Kirsty Brimelow QC, chairwoman of the Committee, said that “each of the individual aspects of Ibrahim Halawa’s case” involved a breach of international law by Egypt.

She said:

“He has been subjected to several years of pre-trial detention, violently assaulted by the Egyptian police and denied access to a lawyer or a fair trial”, and added: “During part of this period, Mr Halawa was a child. [His] urgent release is required.”

Last month, the UK Foreign Office said that its “growing concern” over the human rights situation in Egypt had led to a “step-change” in its approach to the country. Ministers said they had recently urged the UN Human Rights Council to pay close attention to Egypt.

Harriet McCulloch –  deputy director of the death penalty team at human rights organisation Reprieve, which is assisting Ibrahim  – said:

“Egypt’s treatment of Ibrahim Halawa and many others over the last three years is nothing short of an outrage – he was arrested when he was a child, detained arbitrarily, tortured, and subjected to a mass trial that could see him and hundreds more sentenced to death. The Bar Human Rights Committee is right to call for Ibrahim’s immediate release, and the UK must follow up on its recent statements of concern and do the same. If Egypt’s government is serious about justice, it must free Ibrahim and the many prisoners it is holding unjustly.”

Now aged 20, Ibrahim wrote a letter to mark the anniversary, apologising for not being around for his parents, family and friends, and to thank the people of Ireland for fighting for his release.

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