Nigeria: Again, Falana Writes Cape Verde, Demands Release of Venezuelan Diplomat

Cape Verde flag top left, Venezuela flag top right, US flag bottom left, ECOWAS headquarters

The ECOWAS court has ordered the release of a Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, and also awarded $200,000 as compensation for his arrest and detention.

Femi Falana, Counsel to the detained Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, has asked the Cabo Verde Government to respect the latest ruling of ECOWAS court on the case.

The regional court on Monday ordered the release of Mr Saab from the Island's detention and awarded him $200,000 as compensation for his 'illegal arrest and detention.'

Until February when he was moved from prison to house arrest, the Cape Verdean government had kept the Venezuelan diplomat in prison against the December 2, 2020, ruling of the court.

In its explanation, the country's Attorney General office said it snubbed the regional court's earlier ruling "because Cape Verde was not in agreement with the body on the supplementary protocol on the ECOWAS court that empowers the code to entertain human right ramifications".

Mr Falana, however, in another letter addressed to both Jorge Fonseca, and Jose Silva, the President and the Prime Minister of the Republic of Cabo Verde respectively, on Tuesday, cautioned the country against disrespecting the regional court's new judgment like the previous one.

"As an important member State of the African Union and the ECOWAS, the Republic of Cabo Verde has both legal and moral responsibility to respect the sanctity, integrity, authority and independence of the community court of Justice," the letter, obtained by obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, reads in part.

Mr Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, added "Having fully participated in the ECOWAS Court's process (as evidenced by the attendance and participation of your counsel Dr Henrique Borges on both 5 February and 15 March) and therefore submitted to the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Court, we would expect your immediate compliance with the Honourable Court's decision."

He noted that in view of the fact that the judgment of the court is binding and immediately enforceable, "we are compelled to respectfully request your Excellencies to ensure that the government of the Republic of Cabo Verde complies with the judgment as well as provides safe passage for Mr Saab to enable him to assume his diplomatic duties as an Alternate Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the African Union.

"While awaiting immediate compliance with the judgment of the ECOWAS Court by the Republic of Cabo Verde please accept the assurances of our highest esteem and professional regards."

This is the third time the human rights lawyer is writing to the Portuguese speaking government in the space of three months.

Background

Mr Saab was arrested on June 12, 2020 during a stopover at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the Island of Sal by the Cape Verdean government.

According to the Venezuelan government, the diplomat was on a humanitarian mission to Iran from Venezuela.

His arrest by the Cape Verdean government was hinged on an international arrest warrant purportedly issued by Interpol at the request of the United States.

The Venezuelan authorities have continued to call for Mr Saab's unconditional release, adding that he had diplomatic immunity at the time he was arrested.

The ECOWAS Court had in its December 20, 2020 ruling ordered Cape Verde to place Mr Saab under permanent home detention "in good conditions, including access to medical treatment and visits".

The court also ordered that the applicant should not be extradited pending the decision of the court on the substantive suit.

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