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Motion for a resolution - B8-1404/2015Motion for a resolution

MOTION FOR A RESOLUTION on Ibrahim Halawa facing potentially the death penalty

15.12.2015 - (2015/3016(RSP))

with request for inclusion in the agenda for a debate on cases of breaches of human rights, democracy and the rule of law
pursuant to Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure

Judith Sargentini, Davor Škrlec, Klaus Buchner, Jean Lambert, Igor Šoltes, Alyn Smith, Barbara Lochbihler, Ernest Maragall, Margrete Auken, Bodil Valero, Ernest Urtasun, Heidi Hautala on behalf of the Verts/ALE Group

See also joint motion for a resolution RC-B8-1402/2015

Procedure : 2015/3016(RSP)
Document stages in plenary
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European Parliament resolution on Ibrahim Halawa facing potentially the death penalty


The European Parliament,

- having regard to its previous resolutions on Egypt, in particular of 15 January 2015,


- having regard to the EU Foreign Affairs Council conclusions on Egypt of August 2013 and February 2014,


- having regard to the EU-Egypt Association Agreement,


- having regard to the EU Guidelines on the Death Penalty and on Torture and other Forms of Ill-Treatment,


- having regard to the reply by the High Representative/Vice President to an MEP written question on EU and Member States' military support to Egypt, dated 27 October 2015,


- having regard to the Constitution of Egypt, notably articles 73 (on freedom of assembly) and 93 (the binding character of international human rights law)


- having regard to the Egyptian Law 107 of 2013 on Regulating the Right to Public Gatherings, Processions and Peaceful Protests,


- having regard to the presidential decree of December 2014, which allows foreign nationals charged with criminal offence to be returned to their home country,


- having regard to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, notably its article 6 prohibiting arbitrary detention and its article 7 stipulating that every individual shall have the right to have her case heard by a competent, independent and impartial judicial body,


- having regard to Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Fair Trial and Legal Assistance in Africa, of the African Commission on Human Rights and People's Rights (ACHRPR),


- having regard to the Resolution on the Deteriorating Human Rights Situation in the Arab Republic of Egypt, adopted by the ACHRPR on 28 February 2015,


- having regard to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the UN Convention against Torture to which Egypt is a party,


- having regard to Rule 135 of its Rules of Procedure,


A. Whereas Mr. Ibrahim Halawa, 19 years old, Irish national, is potentially facing a death sentence in a mass trial of 494 defendants, including 11 children, for his participation in protests in central Cairo in August 2013;


B. Whereas Ibrahim Halawa was arrested with his three older sisters, as they had sought refuge in a mosque in central Cairo after fleeing from a violent crack-down by Egyptian security forces against protestors; whereas 97 people died in these protests, most as a result of excessive use of force by security forces;


C. Whereas Mr. Halawa was 17 years old at the time of his arrest, and thus still a juvenile under Egyptian and international law;


D. Whereas Mr. Halawa has been charged with attending an illegal protest during which protesters allegedly caused deaths and criminal damage on 16 and 17 August 2013;


E. Whereas the Prosecution has so far presented no evidence that Mr Halawa was involved in a single act of violence; whereas his sisters, who were arrested with him, were released and allowed to return home to Ireland; whereas the prosecutor has depended entirely on police witnesses and reports, and investigations by intelligence services; whereas most of the witnesses due to be called in the trial are police officers or government officials;


F. Whereas Ibrahim Halawa is considered by Amnesty International as a prisoner of conscience, detained solely for peacefully exercising his right to freedom of expression and assembly;


G. Whereas Mr. Halawa has been on hunger strike since 21 October 2015 to protest his detention; whereas his mental and physical health is reported to having markedly deteriorated;


H. Whereas there are strong allegations that Mr. Halawa was subjected to torture and other ill-treatment upon arrest and in detention, including being whipped with chains and sticks, receiving blows to the head, being subjected to electric shocks and being deprived of medical, legal and Irish consular assistance;


I. Whereas Mr. Halawa has been detained in adult prisons, in horrific conditions, including in an overcrowded cell with 120 other detainees and without access to clean drinking water or food;


J. Whereas the Egyptian Cairo North Prosecution Services and the Court have failed to recognize Mr. Halawa as a juvenile at the time of his arrest, in violation of the obligations incumbent to the Egyptian authorities under the Convention on the Rights of the Child to which Egypt is a State Party;


K. Whereas since his arrest, there have been ten hearings on his case between July 2014 and October 2015, however, none of the hearings have been substantive and have been repeatedly postponed with little or no justification;


L. Whereas the number of co-defendants in the case of Mr Halawa is so large that no court house could accommodate them, leading to the building of a new court room at the Wadi Natrun Prison; whereas proceedings in a prison cannot be seen to meet the requirement of impartiality;


M. Whereas the defendants cannot participate in the proceedings against them because they are held behind soundproof glass cages; whereas the Egyptian authorities continue to restrict access to the hearings, in violation of Ibrahim Halawa’s right to a public hearing;


N. Whereas if convicted, Ibrahim Halawa could face the death penalty; whereas in May 2015, Egypt executed 5 individuals, one of whom was the same age as Mr. Halawa;


O. Whereas any sentence inflicting the death penalty on people under the age of 18 at the time of the offence, and execution, are incompatible with Egypt’s international obligations;


P. Whereas Egypt is one of only a small number of countries believed to sentence people to death who allegedly committed crimes as children, along with Saudi Arabia, Iran, Maldives, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Yemen;


Q. Whereas the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights has issued Provisional Measures in a pending communication regarding Mr Halawa and his co-defendants, noting that on the basis of this communication Mr. Halawa’s continued detention is “prima facie” illegal; whereas to date, Egypt has failed to implement the Provisional Measures requested in March 2015  to guarantee the integrity of Mr. Halawa and the other juveniles’ in the case by releasing them immediately on bail; to investigate Mr. Halawa and all others’ allegations of torture and cruel; to accord Mr. Halawa and other juveniles with their right to be treated as juveniles in conflict with the law; and provide assurances that the death penalty will not be sought against all the defendants in the case, including Mr. Halawa; whereas Egypt has yet to respond to the communication;


R. Whereas Egypt has released a number of foreign nationals under a Presidential Decree issued in November 2014 that allows foreigners charged with a criminal offence to be deported to their home country; whereas Al Jazeera journalist Petre Greste and political activist Mohamed Soltan, who also faced a death sentence in a mass trial, were released under provisions of that decree;


S. Whereas similar mass trials in Egypt have been marred by gross violations of fair trial guarantees and roundly condemned by the EU, the African Commission on Human Rights and the United Nations;


T. Whereas Egyptian courts have repeatedly handed down mass death sentences, including of 529, 683, 188 and 183 persons in March, April and December 2014, as well as in February 2015;


U. Whereas the current Egyptian government has conducted a large-scale campaign of arbitrary detention of government critics, including journalists, human rights defenders, as well as members of the Muslim Brotherhood; whereas since July 2013, more than 22,000 people have been detained according to the Egyptian authorities;


V. Whereas the nature of the ongoing domestic repression and the number of prisoners of conscience, political prisoners and journalists detained in Egypt is unparalleled since the 1970s;


W. Whereas the EU is Egypt's first economic partner and its main source of foreign investment; whereas in line with its revised European Neighbourhood Policy after the Arab Spring and notably the "more for more" approach, the level and scope of the EU’s engagement with Egypt is to be dependent on progress with regard to the country’s respect of its commitments on democracy, rule of law and human rights; whereas on 21 August 2013 the Foreign Affairs Council tasked the High Representative to review EU assistance to Egypt; whereas the Council decided that the EU's cooperation with Egypt would be readjusted according to developments on the ground;


X. Whereas the EU Foreign Affairs Council (FAC) conclusions of 21 August 2013 stated that, "Member States also agreed to suspend export licences to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression and to reassess export licences of equipment covered by Common Position 2008/944/CFSP and review their security assistance with Egypt"; whereas these conclusions were reiterated by the FAC in February 2014; whereas the HR/VP confirmed in a written reply dated 27 October 2015 that these conclusions constituted "a political commitment against any military support to Egypt";


1. Expresses its deep concern about the arbitrary detention of Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa in Egypt and calls for his immediate release in order to allow him to return to Ireland, as well as the release of all others detained for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly;


2. Condemns the failure of the Egyptian authorities to uphold the right to a fair trial of Mr. Halawa and his 493 other co-defendants; denounces in particular the lack of opportunity to review or challenge their continued detention and the charges against them and repeated denial of access to lawyers, as well as the excessive pre-trial detention period which violate Egyptian domestic and international obligations;


3. Expresses alarm at the detention conditions of Mr. Halawa and the reports of serious abuse against him, as well as at his prolonged hunger strike; calls on the prison authorities to allow full medical access;


4. Is deeply concerned that, if convicted, Mr Halawa, arrested as a juvenile, could be facing the death penalty in contravention of both international and Egyptian law; reminds Egypt of its international obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child as they apply to Mr Halawa;


5. Calls on the European European External Action Service, via the EU Delegation in Cairo, as well as the Member States, notably Ireland, to monitor all the hearings in the trial of Ibrahim Halawa and his co-defendants; expects the EEAS to raise this case at the highest level of its dialogue with Egypt and to report back regularly to Parliament on the trial monitoring; calls on the Irish authorities and the EU Delegation to provide their full legal, diplomatic and other forms of support to Ibrahim Halawa and his relatives, and to regularly visit him in jail;


6.Remains deeply concerned by the overall human rights situation in Egypt, notably the continued police and military brutality, the harassment, the mass arrests, systematic torture, abuse and denial of medical care in places of detention and the sham criminal proceedings against hundreds of individuals, solely as a response to their peaceful exercise of their fundamental freedoms; calls on the Egyptian authorities to strictly uphold the unequivocal constitutional guarantees in relation to these freedoms;


7.Calls, once again, for the immediate and unconditional release of all persons detained solely for exercising their right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, including human rights defenders Mahinour el Masry, Aya Hegazy, Mahmoud Hussein, Ahmad Abd el Rahman and Ahmad Said; calls for the immediate release of human rights activist Alaa Abd El Fattah and the overturning of his heavy prison sentences; calls on the authorities to annul the baseless ban against the April 6 Movement and the sentences against the organization's activists, including Ahmed Maher and Mohamed Adel; calls on the Egyptian authorities to withdraw the travel bans imposed on a number of human rights defenders, including Esraa Abd el Fattah, recipient of the Sakharov Prize, and whose travel ban was just confirmed on appeal;


8.Condemns the continued and generalised crackdown against civil society, notably through the law on associations, which should be annulled or reformed to be brought in line with international human rights standards, and the criminalisation of foreign funding in the penal code;


9.Denounces the repressive Protest Law of November 2013, as well as the 1914 Assembly Law, which leading Egyptian human rights organisations have described as unconstitutional and which severely restrict the right to peaceful assembly and urges the Egyptian authorities to annul or amend both laws in order to bring them in line with international human rights standards; calls on Egypt's newly established People's Assembly to repeal all other repressive legislation adopted in  violation of Egypt's new Constitution, including the Law on Terrorist Acts and the Law on Terrorist Entities;


10.Expresses its profound preoccupation with the severe deterioration of the media environment; Condemns the trials against and convictions of Egyptian and foreign journalists, in absentia,  such as Rena Netjes, Sue Turton and Dominic Kane, based on unfounded accusations and under a lack of due process; calls for the immediate and unconditional release and the overturn of wrongful convictions of all media professionals and bloggers arrested or convicted for merely carrying out their legitimate activities, including Mahmoud Abdel Nabi, Mahmoud Abu Zeid (a.k.a. Shawkan), Samhi Mustafa, Ahmed Fouad, Abdel Rahman Shaheen, Youssef Shaaban, Hisham Gaafar, Esraa Al Taweel and Ismail al-Iskandrani;


11. Expresses its absolute abhorrence of the handing down of mass death sentences against alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, after shockingly unfair trials;



12. Calls on the Egyptian authorities to comply with the request by the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights to uphold the right to a fair trial for all citizens before independent courts of law in accordance with international law and standards and to observe a moratorium on the death penalty,


13. Expresses concern about the prevalence of torture in Egyptian prisons, including the recent reports of death under torture of Mr. Amr Farouq on 6 December 2015 in the Montazah police station in Alexandria, of Mr. Afity Hosny on 29 November in the Ismalia Police station and of Mr. Talat Shabab at the end of November after his arrest in Luxor;


14. Stresses that the continued, high level of repression in Egypt proscribes any “business as usual” approach by the EU and instead warrants a profound and comprehensive review of the EU’s relations with Egypt; calls for the swift adoption of Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, which should contain effective and targeted measures in response to the situation in the country; opposes any new initiative in the EU's engagement with Egyptian authorities prior to this policy review process;


15. Deplores the continued security cooperation and arms deals by EU Member States, notably France, Germany and the United Kingdom, with Egypt, which run counter to the EU Common Position on Arms exports; calls for an EU-wide ban on export of any form of security equipment and military aid to Egypt; calls on the High Representative to report on the current state of military and security cooperation by EU Member States with the Egyptian regime, and on the results of the review by Member States of their security assistance with Egypt, as decided by the Foreign Affairs Council in August 2013;


16. Is dismayed by the demure public reaction of the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and the EU Member States to the string of outrageous rulings and acts of harassment against human rights defenders, which falls short of the EU’s commitments, notably under the EU Guidelines on Human Rights Defenders; expects the EU, notably the HR/VP and the EU Delegation in Cairo, to step up its public response to further assaults by the Egyptian regime against human rights defenders and other voices of dissent, to support those at risk or in detention and to monitor their trials in a comprehensive manner;


17. Notes the holding for the first time since 2010 of the EU-Egypt Sub-Committee on human rights on 15-16 November 2015; calls on the next meeting of the EU-Egypt Sub-Committee on security and justice to specifically address the human rights situation given the consequences of repression on stability and security in Egypt;


18. Calls on the EU to adopt a list of Egyptian prisoners of conscience, whose fate will serve as factual elements against which to determine the future of EU-Egypt relations;


19. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Vice-President of the Commission/High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, the parliaments and governments of the Member States, the President and Government of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the African Commission on Human Rights and Peoples' Rights.