Cairo, Egypt (Reprieve) – An Irish teenager who has spent the last two years in an Egyptian prison is being subjected to physical abuse as he awaits a mass trial for attending a protest, his sister has told Buzzfeed News.
Ibrahim Halawa, from Dublin, was 17 and on holiday with his family when he was arrested during the Egyptian military’s crackdown on protests in Cairo. Despite having been a juvenile at the time of his arrest, he is being tried as an adult alongside 493 others, in mass proceedings that have been repeatedly postponed since they began last summer. He faces the death penalty if convicted.
Ibrahim’s sister Khadija told Buzzfeed that he had described being beaten in Wadi Natrun prison, where he is being held, saying: “They use some sort of metal sticks that don’t leave marks […] He couldn’t talk about it much because the guards were watching us.”
She added that there were worries for his health, amid reports of poor conditions in the prison, saying: “He told us he had heart problems, and that he was finding it more difficult to breathe […] People are squashed tightly together so there’s not much air. He said he’s very lucky to even have a cup of water in his cell.”
Ibrahim has also been repeatedly refused medical treatment for his hand, which was shot during his arrest, she said.
The reports of mistreatment come as the chair of Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Pat Breen TD, visited Ibrahim in prison, in what he called “very trying circumstances.”
Commenting, Maya Foa, head of the death penalty team at Reprieve, said:
“It is a disgrace that Ibrahim – a teenager who has committed no crime – is still languishing in the most horrific conditions, two years after his arrest, and facing a potential death sentence. His mass trial alongside 493 others is a mockery of justice. He is being illegally tried as an adult, and the group have barely been able to present a defence in a year of hearings. It’s clear that the Egyptian authorities have no intention of seeing justice done in his case. The Irish government and other countries should be pushing for his immediate release, and an end to the terrible oppression the last two years have seen in Egypt.”
This report was prepared by Reprieve.