The following is the statement from the African Bar Association demanding an end to the persecution against Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, who has been detained in Cape Verde since June 2020, facing extradition to the United States.
African Bar Demands an End to the Violation of Court Orders and Respect for the Rule of Law in Africa, in the Case of Venezuelan Diplomat, Amb. Alex Saab.
1) Whereas the Human Rights Council of the African Bar Association met in Abuja Nigeria from September 12th-14th, 2021.
2) Whereas the Council took a Holistic overview of the violations of Judicial decisions by mostly the Executive Arms of Governments in the African Continent.
3) Whereas the Council have observed some terrifying dimensions to the tyranny and oppression of some supposed Democratic Governments who now violate with impunity Judgments of Judicial bodies and Institutions set up to extend the frontiers of Justice delivery and access to Justice in Africa.
4) Whereas the Council took special note of the arrogance and reckless abandon with which Cape Verde a Member State of the Economic Community of West African States have violated the Judgement of the ECOWAS Community Court which ordered the immediate and unconditional release of Ambassador Alex Saab, a Venezuelan Diplomat illegally detained in Cape Verde since June, 2020.
5) Whereas the African Bar Association and its Human Rights Committee notes with disdain that despite the fact that Cape Verde is a full fledged member of ECOWAS and part of the decision to set up the ECOWAS Community Court, where same Cape Verde nominated Judges who sits in the ECOWAS Community Court, the Country is deliberately and illegally refusing to abide by the Court’s Judgement which is not in her favour.
6) Whereas the African Bar Association is aware that Cape Verde participated in the Proceedings of the Court in the Ambassador Alex Saab’s Case, made out their arguments but lost the outcome and has become sour about it.
7) Whereas the African Bar Association is aware that instead of complying with international Law and Judgement, Cape Verde has resorted to using its Municipal Laws and Courts to threaten and intimidate Ambassador Saab.
8) Whereas, the African Bar Association believes Cape Verde’s action to be an after thought, a repressive and retrogressive step considering the fact that Cape Verde is a democracy and practices Constitutional rule, and must be quickly, effectively and decisively checked to prevent a collapse of the Legal and Value system of ECOWAS as a respected and renowned sub-regional group.
9) Whereas the African Bar Association does not and will not respect Cape Verde’s right to Municipal Laws and Legal regime when it is in violent disobedience of a Regional Court over the same Subject Matter, as this is Illegal and totally unacceptable in International Law.
10) Whereas the African Bar Association is of the opinion and believes Cape Verde’s action to be a set back for Africa’s quest for regional and Global integration, as it’s action has created doubt about the efficacy of the Legal System in Africa.
11) Whereas the African Bar Association believes that Cape Verde’s actions puts West Africa and African Diplomats at risk, is a blow to the Foreign Direct Investment in Africa and an affront on African Unity.
12) Whereas, the African Bar Association believes that influential members of the Sub-regional body have been too soft on Cape Verde as Cape Verde is not above the Law and not bigger than ECOWAS.
13) Whereas the AFBA believes that influential member States of ECOWAS like Nigeria, Ghana, Cote d’ Ivoire, Senegal and Niger Republic should immediately call Cape Verde to order and make her comply with the ECOWAS Court Judgement on Ambassador Saab by releasing the diplomat immediately.
14) Whereas, the AFBA believes that the said influential members in saving the integrity of Saab and their individual and National integrity, has the capacity to invoke the relevant rules to impose serious punishment on Cape Verde including Political and Economic blockades until the Country complies with the Judgement.
Now having studied the entire scenario has resolved that:
(a) Disobedience of Court Orders and Judgments is the same as a Military Coup d’etat and ECOWAS leaders should treat it as they are currently taking the illegal change in Governments in Mali and recently in Guinea.
(b) ECOWAS Leaders should call for an emergency meeting and demand the obedience of the ECOWAS Court Judgement by Cape Verde or in the alternative impose severe punitive sanctions.
(c) The Ambassador Saab’s case is a case of gross Human Rights violation and Illegal detention, a violation of International Law and take the matter to the 2021 Annual Conference holding in Niamey, Republic of Niger 3rd – 7th October 2021, sensitize Participants on the matter and work with the media to achieve respect and obedience of the ECOWAS Community Court, the Rule of Law, respect for the sanctity and independence of the Judiciary in Africa.
Appreciates the fears and concerns of the Venezuela Lawyers’ Association, the world Council of Jurists, the International Association of Democratic Lawyers, Political and Religious Authorities that have written to and sought the intervention of the African Bar Association in the campaign for the unconditional release of Ambassador Saab and will work with all Professional bodies, Civil society Organizations, and do all that is Lawful to secure the freedom of Ambassador Saab.
FINALLY DEMANDS for the immediate and unconditional release of Ambassador Alex Saab, respect for the ECOWAS Court and the Rule of Law in Africa by Cape Verde and all Governments and Institutions in Africa as the African Bar Association will continue to demand for the respect of treaty obligations and the independence of Judiciary in Africa.
28th September, 2021
Hannibal Uwaifo Esq., LL.M, MNIM, MCIarb.
Featured image: African Bar Association logo.