The Cape Verde government has explained its unwillingness to comply with the ECOWAS ruling on the detained Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab.
PREMIUM TIMES has been following closely and reporting the legal and diplomatic contests between the United States of America and Venezuela governments since Mr Saab, a frontman of President Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, was arrested in Cape Verde in June 2020, at the request of Interpol for alleged financial crimes.
His arrest has not only dragged West Africa into the discussion, it has once again questioned the influence of ECOWAS and its other arms on its member nations.
On the ground of Mr Saab’s deteriorating health and status as a diplomat, Femi Falana-led legal team approached the ECOWAS court to halt the former’s extradition to the U.S, a request that was granted but yet to be respected by the Cabo Verde, one of the beneficiaries of the organization, till date.
Aside from the organization’s court ruling that Mr Maduro’s frontman be placed on house arrest and allowed to seek medical attention under the authority’s supervision, it also ruled that all extradition proceedings be suspended until its main hearing, scheduled for February 4, in Abuja.
Having lost at the Cabo Verde’s Tribunal and Appeal courts, the defendant has appealed the judgment at the Supreme Court, while the ECOWAS ruling continues to be treated with disregard.
Why we won’t obey ECOWAS ruling – Cape Verde
In the pursuant of Mr Saab’s denied human rights, situated within the existing legal and diplomatic realities, Mr Falana and former Spanish Chief Justice, Baltasar Garson, other prominent lawyers across three continents, wrote to the Cabo Verde President last week.
In the letter sent to this newspaper, the lawyers alleged the Cape Verde authority of collaborating with the U.S in breaching international laws by denying the ruling of ECOWAS on the subject.
However, an exclusive document obtained by PREMIUM TIMES from the office of the Attorney General of Barlavento Circuit, highlighted why the Cabo Verde government has been reluctant in obeying the organisation’s court ruling.
While available documents prove otherwise, the office said the country is not in agreement with the body on the supplementary protocol on the ECOWAS court that empowers the code to entertain human right ramifications.
“Without prejudice to affirming that we are not aware of any notification made to the Government, Supreme Court of Justice, Court of Appeal and Attorney General’s Office about such a decision, which, as is known, has to be done through the proper diplomatic channels and with the required legal formalities, we can say in advance that such a decision does not bind the national courts.
“As a matter of fact, it can be said that since the Treaty of Lagos, what was envisaged was an ECOWAS economic organization, there is nothing stipulating about the jurisdiction of the Court of this African Organization, nor is any reference made to “Justice.”
“It is not possible to intend such a provision to be applied in our country, when we have never accepted it in our national legal system, through the mechanisms provided for this, since it is a decision not applicable in the legal system of Cape Verde, where, as is known, the ECOWAS Court is not part of the Hierarchy of the Courts, where the Constitutional Court and the Supreme Court of Justice are at the apex (art. 214, paragraphy I and a), 215 and 216, CRCV),” an excerpt from the the office argued, insisting that the ECOWAS ruling undermined its domestic legal standards.
The Cape Verde Attorney General, Luís Landim, had argued in an interview late last December that the country has not ratified the protocol that gave jurisdiction to the ECOWAS court in matters of human rights.
In an exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Falana dismissed the Mr Landim argument saying “the supplementary protocol came into effect on the 19th of January, 2005, when it was signed by 14 out of the 15 member states of the ECOWAS. Article 11 of the protocol provides that once it is signed by 9 member states it shall come into provision of force. In this instance, it was signed by 14.
“That meeting was attended by the then Prime Minister of Cape Verde. The meeting took place in Accra, Ghana. He was there, but towards the tail end, he had to rush home to attend to an emergency. Hence, he didn’t sign the supplementary protocol, but there has been no rejection of the protocol by Cape Verde,” the Nigerian human rights lawyer said.
PREMIUM TIMES has a copy of the said meeting and all decisions taken.
While the tripartite case of Mr Saab continues to linger in ECOWAS, Cape Verde and the U.S, the argument for the denial of his human rights vis-à-vis his status as a diplomat has continued to raise questions.
FIND ATTACHED A COPY OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S STATEMENT
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