Foreign Affairs Committee Meeting on Israeli Settlements, the Case of The Hooded Men and the Trial of Ibrahim Halawa

At the Foreign Affairs Committee 8th July meeting, I spoke about the motion I put forward that condemns the proposed demolition and transfer of the inhabitants of the Bedouin village of Susiya in the Israeli settlement of the West Bank.

Forcible transfer of the protected population is prohibited according to Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered to be a grave breach of international humanitarian law according to Article 147 of the Convention.

We instruct the Minister to contact the Government of Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon, Military Advocate General Danny Efroni, Israeli Military Judge Advocate General Avichai Mandelblit, and Israeli Military Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot to express Ireland’s condemnation of the proposal to demolish the village of Susiya and expel its residents.

I also spoke about the case of ‘The Hooded Men’ which concerns the torture of 12 men under the British Government’s internment programme in 1971 during the midst of The Troubles.

The Hooded Men won their case against the UK in 1976 when the European Commission of Human Rights ruled the techniques were torture, but the findings were overturned by the European Court of Human Rights on appeal two years later. It ruled that while the five techniques amounted to “a practice of inhuman and degrading treatment” they did not cause suffering of the intensity and cruelty to constitute torture. The 1978 ruling was subsequently used as justification for the George W Bush administration’s infamous ‘torture memos’ outlining what interrogation techniques could and could not be used on detainees. Shortly afterwards the CIA was using the five techniques in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

I also brought up my concern on the torture that Ibrahim Halawa is subjected to in the Egyptian prison that he is still detained in. According to Ibrahim’s legal team in Egypt, categorically he is still facing the death sentence and that his charges have not been reduced, contrary to what was said by the Taoiseach. We need to clarify this situation in order to secure Ibrahim’s release either on the basis of reduced charges or by presidential decree.

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