African Bar Association tackles Cape Verde over continued detention Alex Saab

The African Bar Association has express fears that ECOWAS and the African Union could be brought into dispute if Cape Verde does not reconsider its handling of the Alex Saab situation.

They warn that the matter, if not handled appropriately, would also open the way for “big countries to violate the diplomatic status of our diplomats for flimsy excuses or political convenience”

In a statement signed by the President of the Association, Hannibal Uwaifo, they criticized Cape Verde for violating Alex Saab’s privileges as a diplomat.

“He was carrying documents which identified him as such and the purpose of his humanitarian special mission to Iran. This evidence has been ignored by Cape Verde as it has bent over backwards to accommodate the externally motivated interests,” part of the statement reads.

Mr. Uwaifo, who describes the detention of the Venezuelan ambassador as unlawful, said that the matter should not be entertained by any judicial sitting.

In Monday’s statement, Mr. Uwaifo debunked claims by Cape Verde that a Red Notice had been issued prior to Alex Saab’s arrest.

There was “no Red Notice (used as a basis for the detention) at the time of the detention – we know now that it was only issued on the next day, 13 June. Neither on the day of its issuance, nor the eight months later, has any evidence of the supporting arrest warrant issued by the United States been shown to Ambassador Saab or his Defense team”

He add that; “the Red notice was cancelled on 25th June 2020, but Cape Verde has continued to unlawfully detain Ambassador Saab until an extradition request from the United States arrived a week later”

“Interestingly, the extradition request, with the three first pages missing, contained a copy of the arrest warrant issued in the name of someone else and not Mr. Saab,” president of the Association, Hannibal Uwaifo, said in a statement issued on Monday.

The President of the African Bar Association continued, saying that the administrative and judicial decision to extradite the diplomat to the US over criminal charges were “neither in compliance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights nor with customary international law”

Alex Saab was arrested by local police in Cape Verdean based on a request by the US government in June 2020 over allegations of money laundering.

His aircraft had stopped in Cape Verde to refuel on a diplomatic mission to Iran on behalf of the Venezuelan government  when the arrest took place.

Efforts by his lawyers for his release amidst harsh treatments he is facing in Cape Verde has yielded little results.

The ECOWAS court is still hearing the case and is expected to pronounce judgement later this month.

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