Written answers

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

Human Rights Issues

Photo of Brendan SmithBrendan Smith (Cavan-Monaghan, Fianna Fail)
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153. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he has had recent contact with the Egyptian authorities in relation to the detention of an Irish citizen (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29812/14]

Photo of Eamon GilmoreEamon Gilmore (Minister, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade; Dún Laoghaire, Labour)
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I raised my concerns regarding this individual with the EU High Representative, Catherine Ashton, on 23 June 2014 at the Foreign Affairs Council in Luxembourg. I have also raised my concerns at this individual's continued detention without trial with the then Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil Fahmy, on 11 November and 23 December 2013. I followed up these phone calls with a letter to Minister Fahmy in January, expressing my continued concern at this individual's detention. The Minister for European Affairs Paschal Donohoe, T.D. met with Foreign Minister Fahmy, on 11 June 2014 in Athens, on the margins of the EU-League of Arab States Ministerial meeting. The Minister raised the ongoing detention of the individual and requested that all appropriate assistance might be provided to him and his family arising from our serious concerns over his case.

From the outset, Ambassador Isolde Moylan and her colleagues in the Embassy of Ireland in Cairo have been in sustained and direct contact with the Egyptian authorities in relation to the case and contacts have included numerous meeting at Ambassadorial level with senior officials from the Foreign Ministry, Ministry of Justice and the office of the Prosecutor General. Also, on 12 March 2014, the Minister for Justice wrote to the Egyptian Minister for Justice Abdel-Moneim Othman, raising the Government's concerns at the individual's situation and requesting the opportunity to speak about this case as soon as possible.

I have worked with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, to ensure maximum engagement at EU level. As advised already, as recently as 9 May, I wrote to Ms. Ashton to raise this case. At my request, Minister of State Paschal Donohoe, T.D. raised this individual's case in person with High Representative Ashton at the Foreign Affairs Council meeting in Brussels on 12 May. High Representative Ashton had confirmed that the EU is both acutely aware of, and closely monitoring, this individual's situation. The European External Action Service delegation in Cairo has raised the case during official contacts. The EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Stavros Lambrinidis, mentioned the case during separate meetings with the Egyptian Foreign Minister and the Prosecutor General in Cairo on 9 February.

From the beginning, the Consular Section in my Department has been actively liaising with the family of this individual and the Head of Consular Section in Dublin met with family representatives on 17 August, 19 September, 24 October and 16 December 2013, 16 January, 6 March, 1 and 21 May 2014. Also, the Embassy in Cairo has been allowed regular consular access to this individual and consular visits were made by the Embassy on 24 August, 8 September, 15 September, 10 October, 24 October, 30 October, 10 November, 21 November, 3 December and 18 December 2013 and 8 January, 26 January, 13 February, 23 March, 9 April, 5 May, 9 June and 1 July 2014.

In all dealings with the authorities the Embassy has sought to stress the individual's young age, the length of time he has already been in detention, and the necessity for him to return to Ireland as soon as possible to continue his studies for his Leaving Certificate examination as mitigating factors in his case in addition to the fact that his three sisters who were part of the same case and with him when he was arrested have already been allowed to return to Ireland. However, as you will be aware, the individual named is still before the judicial system in Egypt and we are precluded from getting involved in the judicial process.

Let me assure you that I continue to remain seriously concerned at the continued detention of this individual and have directed that the Irish Embassy in Cairo and the Consular Assistance Section at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade continue to give all appropriate consular assistance.

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