Family of juvenile facing death sentence in Egypt appeal to Cameron to raise case with Sisi
November 4, 2015
The family of an Irish teenager facing a potential death sentence after getting caught up in protests in Egypt have appealed to David Cameron to raise his case with the Egyptian President during his visit to the UK.
President Sisi is expected to arrive in London later today (Wednesday), and will meet with the Prime Minister tomorrow. Since seizing power in July 2013, Mr Sisi has overseen a crackdown that has included the handing down of death sentences to thousands of activists, journalists, and others.
Among them is a teenager from Dublin, Ibrahim Halawa, who is assisted by international human rights organisation Reprieve. His family are visiting London today and last month wrote to the Prime Minister asking him to raise Ibrahim’s case during Sisi’s visit, and requesting a meeting with Mr Cameron to discuss the case.
Ibrahim was 17 when he was arrested during the military’s breakup of protests in 2013, and subsequently tortured. 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. The 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.
In their letter, Ibrahim’s family writes:
Ibrahim was just a child when he was arrested, but the Egyptian authorities have refused to accept this. He has been held in a series of adult prisons, where conditions are awful, and he is being tried as an adult. Our government in Ireland has produced documents proving his young age – but these have been ignored.
During his two years of detention Ibrahim has suffered terrible mistreatment by the Egyptian prison system. In addition to not receiving medical treatment for a bullet wound to his hand during his arrest, he has been beaten, stripped and assaulted, and this abuse continues today. He is also not the only victim, and has told us of others in his prison suffering even worse treatment.
We are allowed to visit him only very rarely – and the trial has seen many hearings come and go with almost no progress. Ibrahim has never been allowed to defend himself, and he’s only been allowed to meet his lawyer once in over two years. Our family are sick with worry.
For this reason, we want to ask you to raise Ibrahim’s case with President Sisi when you meet him next month. We know that the UK is concerned by human rights abuses in Egypt and we are grateful for the action that your government has taken to raise these issues in the past. We know that President Sisi takes the UK’s opinion very seriously – we believe that your intervention could help bring Ibrahim home.
Commenting, Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve’s death penalty team said: “It is crucial that David Cameron uses this visit call for an end to the brutal treatment handed down to protesters, journalists and juveniles like Ibrahim by the Sisi regime. Ibrahim’s case shows that even children in Egypt are not safe from the threat of torture, sham trials and the death penalty. Hundreds, if not thousands of others are also facing execution due to the Egyptian regime’s practice of handing down mass-death sentences to political protesters. Mr Sisi cannot be allowed to use this visit to whitewash the appalling human rights abuses carried out by his government.”