To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade the status of the efforts being made by his department to secure the release of a person (details supplied) currently being detained without trial; the efforts being made by him and his department to ensure this person is being treated in a fair and humane manner and that their human and legal rights are being upheld; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Darragh O'Brien.
* For WRITTEN answer on Tuesday, 23rd May, 2017.
Ref No: 24274/17
This consular case continues to be a top priority for the Government and very substantial resources and time are being devoted to it. In light of its exceptional circumstances, this case has had an extraordinary degree of high-level political engagement, investment in terms of person-hours, consultation with third parties worldwide, and consular visits and trial monitoring.
The Government has made repeated and strong representation to the Egyptian authorities to release this Irish citizen and return him to Ireland without delay. Both the Taoiseach and I maintain open lines of communication with our Egyptian counterparts on this case. As known, the Government has secured a commitment from President el-Sisi that this citizen will be returned to Ireland once the trial process concludes.
Officials from the Embassy were present in the court in Cairo again for the latest hearing in this person’s court case on Wednesday, 17 May. At that hearing, the presiding judge invoked new legal powers to speed up the trial and announced that only 18 more individuals, identified as priority witnesses by the defence lawyers, will take the stand. The judge has said that every effort will be made to ensure that all of these are present in court for the next hearing. Because Ramadan is about to commence, and it is customary for the courts not to sit during the holy month, the next hearing has been scheduled for 4 July.
Reports about this citizen’s health are a matter of the utmost concern to the Government. The Government took the unprecedented step of making arrangements for an Irish medical doctor, nominated by the Chief Medical Officer, to visit him in prison and to undertake an assessment of his health.
The Embassy in Cairo has been following up urgently on these issues.
Our Ambassador paid a further consular visit to this citizen in prison on 7 May. The visit provided a good opportunity for a discussion on the full range of issues relevant to the case.
Our Embassy has been monitoring this person’s welfare since his detention and on every occasion where allegations of mistreatment have been made, the Irish Embassy has followed up without delay with the relevant Egyptian authorities.
I can also confirm that the Irish Embassy has submitted a formal request on this citizen’s behalf for him to be transferred to another prison.