Irish teen details abuse, threats of torture in Egypt prison

June 13, 2015

Image of Ibrahim Halawa

An Irish teenager facing a death sentence in Egypt has written a letter detailing his ill-treatment in prison, where he has been awaiting trial for nearly two years.

Ibrahim Halawa, a student from Dublin, was 17 and on holiday in Egypt when he was arrested, along hundreds of others during the military’s breakup of protests. Now 19, he faces a death sentence if convicted, and has reported mistreatment throughout his detention in Egypt, where police torture is common. He is being tried as an adult – in contravention of Egypt’s Child Law and international law – alongside 493 others, in controversial mass proceedings that have been repeatedly postponed over the past year (most recently on June 3rd).

A recent letter written by Ibrahim to his family from Wadi Natrun prison, where he awaits trial, details how:

  • He is being held in a room with a glued-shut window and no access to the sun, and wakes up “every morning to the voices of other prisoners screaming from the hitting and I can hear the beatings”
  • Prison official Selim Shakawy, or “the Prosecutor”, hits him if he speaks out and threatens him, including with removal to the “torture room”
  • The Prosecutor has told him that the Irish government cannot help him, saying: “Let the embassy go to the minister of interior, they can’t do anything… a passport isn’t going to save me from him…  he kept threatening me & said life is just going to get tougher”
  • Ibrahim has decided to go on hunger strike, in protest at the repeated delays in his trial and his mistreatment

The letter marks the first time Ibrahim has been able to publicly detail his treatment since he was moved to Wadi Natrun from Tora prison, in Cairo – where he shared a cell with Al Jazeera journalists Peter Greste and Mohammed Fahmy.

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

“This heartbreaking letter from Ibrahim demonstrates the complete injustice of his ordeal, and that of the hundreds detained alongside him. These are people whose only ‘crime’ was to attend a protest – and yet, two years later, they are languishing in hellish conditions, enduring terrible mistreatment, and awaiting a Kafkaesque mass trial. The Irish government and the international community must make it clear to the Sisi government that this cannot continue. Justice must be done, and Ibrahim must be returned home to his family in Dublin without delay.”

ENDS

Notes to editors

1.  Copies of the letter are available on request, while background on Ibrahim’s case can be found at Reprieve’s website.