Unlawful Detention of Alex Saab by Cape Verde signals doom for African diplomats – African Bar Association

NEWS DIGEST – The African Bar Association has added its voice to the controversial detention of Alex Saab by the Cape Verdean authority.

Mr Saab was arrested by the Ulisses Correia e Silva led government at the request of the Donald Trump led United States government over allegations of money laundering in June 2020.

The association in its argument described both the arrest and detention as an unlawful attempt which should not be entertained by any judicial sitting based on different yardsticks.

Against Cape Verde’s arguments for the diplomat’ arrest, the African Bar Association countered that 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.”

“The Red Notice was cancelled on 25 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,” the association president, Hannibal Uwaifo, said in a statement issued on Monday.

Setting his first argument aside, Mr Uwaifo also argued that Mr Saab as an ambassador is entitled to immunity, a privilege Cape Verde has continued to violate.

“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,” he said.

He noted that the administrative and judicial decision of Cape Verde to extradite Saab to the United States over criminal charges “are neither in compliance with the provisions of the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights nor with
customary international Law.”

The association also noted that the unlawful steps of the Cape Verdean government may bring the “ECOWAS and the African Union (AU) into
disrepute” and also open the way for “big countries to violate the diplomatic
status of our diplomats for flimsy excuses or political convenience.”

In similar vein, Jorge Miranda, a respected Professor at the Lisbon University and Portugese Catholic University, has continued detention of Mr Saab.

In his legal opinion dated February 17, 2021, Mr Miranda, stressed that the adherence of Cape Verde to grant the U.S extradition request is not only in violation of international law but also an outright violation of Article 11 Paragraph 1 of its own constitution.

The section of Cape Verdean constitution referenced by Mr Miranda states that “Cape Verde is governed, in international relations, by the principles of national independence, respect for international law and human rights, equality between states, non-interference in the internal affairs of other states, the reciprocity of advantages, cooperation with all other peoples and peaceful coexistence.”

“General or common international law is an integral part of the Cape Verdean legal order, as long as it is in force in the international legal order,” Article 12 Paragraph 1 further clarified.

It is on this legal premises that Mr Miranda called for the release of Mr Saab.