This Monday, March 1, the African Bar Association published its conclusions after an investigation into the legal case against Alex Saab, Special Envoy of Venezuela who was apprehended in Cape Verde under the orders of the United States Government, violating his diplomatic immunity.
Saab had to fulfill a humanitarian task in Tehran when he was arrested in Cape Verde. The Government of Venezuela and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have jointly indicated the illegality of this decision.
The team of African jurists conducted the study at the request of complaints made by the Saab family. They authorized their Human Rights and International Law Committees to investigate the case. These were their conclusions :
- The investigations revealed “very serious violations of the ECOWAS Protocols, the Charter of the African Union, serious and violent violations of international law, abuse of human rights and disobedience of judicial orders by the Government of Cape Verde.”
- The arrest is illegal because the red alert was issued the day after the arrest, and not before. For the next eight months, Saab and its defense team were not provided with evidence of the supporting US arrest warrant.
- “The Interpol red notice was canceled on June 25, 2020, yet Cape Verde continued to detain Ambassador Saab illegally until a week later, when a request for extradition from the United States arrived. The extradition request, which was missing the first three pages, contained a copy of the arrest warrant issued in the name of someone else and not Ambassador Saab,” the statement said.
- The arrest violates Alex Saab’s diplomatic immunity. Cape Verde has “deliberately” ignored the documents that identified him as a special diplomatic envoy of Venezuela and that explained the purpose of his humanitarian mission in Iran. The document adds that Saab is doubly protected by international law, because he was appointed Alternate Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the African Union, on December 24, 2020.
- Cape Verde omits details, saying it is not linked to the decisions of the ECOWAS Court, which ordered the release of Saab. The lawyers reply that: “Cape Verde appointed the judges of the ECOWAS Court and its Chief Justice is a member of the ECOWAS Community Judicial Committee.”
- It considers that Cape Verde’s decision to accept extradition to the United States “does not comply with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights or with customary international law.”
- The illegal behavior of the authorities of that African country is aggravated by not recognizing the order of an international court (ECOWAS) to suspend the extradition pending the decision on the merits, release Saab under house arrest, allow the specialized medical care and unrestricted access to the family and its national and international lawyers.
- If there is not a wake-up call to the Cape Verdean authorities to respect the Vienna Convention, a “crisis of monumental proportions” could occur in ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) that could convert the subregion and the continent into “a laughingstock with dire consequences for our diplomats and their diplomatic immunity.”
- Cape Verde’s actions may “discredit ECOWAS and the African Union” and set a precedent for other countries in the African region to be encouraged to “succumb to illegal pressure and violate ECOWAS protocols and treaties and the Geneva Convention.”
- The African Bar Association advises the Government of Cape Verde “to follow the line of legality, respect the rule of law and immediately release Mr. Alex Saab to continue with his legitimate mission.” Otherwise, the international body may request that the ECOWAS, the AU and the UN issue “comprehensive sanctions” against Cape Verde.
Featured image: Another African body denounces the illegality of the arrest of Alex Saab in Cape Verde (Photo: Voice of America).
Translation: Orinoco Tribune