Cameron must urge Sisi to end mass death sentences

November 3, 2015

Image of Ibrahim Halawa

David Cameron must use a visit by Egypt’s President Sisi to urge an end to mass trials and death sentences for political prisoners, including an Irish teenager held since 2013, human rights organization Reprieve has said.

President Sisi is expected to visit London later this week for talks with the Prime Minister. Since seizing power in July 2013, he has overseen the handing down of thousands of death sentences in mass trials of political protestors, journalists, and others. Among them is a teenager from Dublin, Ibrahim Halawa, who is assisted by Reprieve.

Ibrahim – whose family are traveling from Dublin to London tomorrow to coincide with President Sisi’s visit – was 17 when he was arrested during the military’s breakup of protests in 2013. He faces the death penalty in a mass trial alongside 493 other people, and is being tried as an adult, despite having been a juvenile when he was arrested.

Ibrahim has been tortured throughout his 2 and a half years of pre-trial detention, and has only been allowed to meet a lawyer once. His trial has been repeatedly postponed, amid chaotic hearings in which the many defendants have been unable to see or hear proceedings. Ibrahim has reported being beaten for complaining about the unfair trial conditions.

The UK government has told Reprieve that Mr Sisi’s visit will be “an opportunity to discuss at the highest level the values which are important to Britain, as well as our mutual interests in inclusive economic growth, democratic transition, a rules-based international system and security.” Reprieve has written to the Prime Minister asking him to request that Sisi: release Ibrahim and other prisoners held on charges relating to protests; review the punitive mass death sentences handed down in the past two years; and commit to an end to political detentions, mass trials and torture in Egypt.

Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:

“President Sisi has presided over a brutal wave of repression, including death sentences handed down en masse in shocking trial conditions designed to punish political dissenters. Reports of torture, unacceptably long periods of pre-trial detention, and terrible obstacles to due process are rife – and the scores of victims include juveniles such as Ibrahim Halawa. If the UK is serious about encouraging Egypt to follow a ‘rules-based system’, David Cameron must use Sisi’s visit this week to call strongly for an end to these abuses.”


1. Reprieve is an international human rights organization with offices in London and New York City. For more information, contact Reprieve’s press office:

UK: communications [at] / +44 (0) 207 553 8140
US: katherine [dot] oshea [at] / +1 917 855 8064

2. Reprieve’s letter to the Prime Minister is available to read here.

3. For more information on Ibrahim Halawa’s case, see the Reprieve website.