Yesterday witnessed the 14th adjournment of the trial of young Irishman Ibrahim Halawa. In a matter of moments the hopes of the family, friends and of those who have campaigned for Ibrahim’s release were dashed.
To be clear, Ibrahim is, as Amnesty International formally recognises, a prisoner of conscience. He has been “detained”, in reality imprisoned, since August of 2013 for speaking out against a military coup.
In a recent letter, Ibrahim recalled the manifest human rights abuses that he is being routinely exposed to and which do not bear repetition here. This has to end with Ibrahim’s release and it has to end now.
To date, the approach of the Irish Government in “protecting” Ibrahim as one of its citizens has been a manifest failure. Calls have been made for the Government to alter its course in how it is dealing with Ibrahim’s case, including from highly regarded legal office Doughty Street Chambers of London and Ibrahim’s former cellmate Peter Greste of Al Jazeera.
These calls have gone unheeded, and all the while Ibrahim, a young man from Firhouse in Dublin, languishes in prison for advocating for democracy. The toll this must be having on Ibrahim’s family can only be imagined.
The Government may have had its reasons for the softly-softly diplomatic approach that it has approached Ibrahim’s case with to-date; however, in light of yet another adjournment a new course must be charted and the advice of international experts listened to.
Various groups have called for the utilisation of Egyptian legal mechanism “Law 140”, essentially a presidential decree, the result of which could see Ibrahim return to Ireland while a final ruling is made on his case.
If those close to Ibrahim’s case still feel this is the way to proceed, then surely it is worth taking their advice seriously. As a young Irishman awaiting entrance to university in Ireland, Ibrahim has a future full of promise ahead of him. Each second he spends in prison is a second less for Ibrahim to develop into the young Irishman known to his friends and family.
I implore Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan to listen to all advice available and take every appropriate action now and bring Ibrahim home to Dublin. We owe it to ourselves as a democratic state that upholds the rule of law, due process and human rights. Most of all we owe it to Ibrahim.
Dr James Carr,
Department of Sociology,
University of Limerick.