Two sisters of Ibrahim Halawa – an Irish citizen who has been detained in Egypt without trial for almost four years – are suing the Minister for Justice over a delay of 18 months in deciding applications to have their husbands join them in Ireland.
Omaima and Somaia Halawa, both Irish citizens, have, along with their husbands – Mohamed Abdo Mahmoud Aly and Emadelin Mohamed Arab respectively – taken judicial review proceedings against the Minister in the High Court.
Both men are Egyptian nationals currently residing in Turkey.
Omaima Halawa said she and her husband are expecting their first child in August, but, despite having applied for a Join Spouse visa in October 2015, they have yet to receive a decision. The delay is “deeply distressing”, she said.
Michael Lynn SC, instructed by KOD Lyons Solicitors, for the sisters, with an address at Firhouse, Tallaght, and their husbands, secured leave on Monday from Ms Justice Miriam O’Regan to bring the case.
The judge returned the matter to June 19th.
In their proceedings, the sisters said they, along with their brother Ibrahim and another sister, were detained by Egyptian security forces in August 2013 when taking refuge in a mosque during protests against the military coup in Egypt.
The sisters were detained for three months before being released without charge but their brother remains detained in Egypt, they said.
The applicants claim the delay in deciding the Join Spouse visa applications is inordinate and unlawful and want orders compelling the Minister to decide them “forthwith”.
The delay breaches their legal rights as married couples and also breaches the Minister’s legal duties under the Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, it is claimed.
The sisters also allege unlawful discrimination against them as Irish citizens exercising their rights concerning free movement rights of EU citizens and their families.