Despite ECOWAS court ruling which ordered the immediate termination of the extradition process of the Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, the Government of Cape has expressed interest to continue the extradition process of Saab to the United States.
The Court of Justice of the Economic Community Court of West African States, had on March 15, which ruled that Saab’s arrest is illegal due to the absence of an Interpol Red Notice or arrest warrant when he was detained.
The ECOWAS court also ordered the immediate termination of the extradition process and the payment of a sum of $200,000 in compensation to Saab by the Cape Verde government.
While explaining the basis for its decision not to obey the ruling, the Cape Verde government argued that the supremacy of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice over its domestic legal order is not acceptable.
However, the argument by the Cape Verde government has been described as disputed because even though the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Jose Maria Perira Neves did not sign the Supplementary Protocol of Ecowas Court in January 2005, the country is still bound by the provisions of the instrument on grounds of estoppel under international
Since Cape Verde recognised the jurisdiction of the Court by fully participating in the process by the presence and conduct of its legal representative, Dr. Henrique Borges and voluntarily exercised its right to participate in the process, filed submissions and was heard by the Court, it was bound by the judgement.
Despite machinations to the contrary, Cape Verde is also bound to the Additional Protocol A/SP1/01/05 amending Protocol A/P1/7/91 in regard to the Court of Justice of the Community (“the Protocol”). Under the provisions of Paragraph 2 of Article 11 of the Protocol.
The Protocol becomes binding on all of the Member States of the ECOWAS if 9 Member States sign it. In the present case, 14 out of 15 Member States signed the Protocol with the only one not signing being the Republic of Cape Verde because its Prime Minister at the time had to return home to deal with an emergency.
However, the country neither at the time, nor at any time in the eleven years since the
Protocol was signed has never raised any concern about the binding nature
of the Protocol upon it.
The country even actively participated in the discussions leading
up to the drafting and ratification of the Protocol.
Currently, former Minister of Justice of Cape Verde, the Honorable Justice Januária
Tavares Silva Moreira Costa (“Justice Costa”) was one of the 3 members of the panel
of the Court which deliberated and ruled on the matter between Cabo Verde and Mr. Alex Saab and even had the honor of reading the final judgement on 15 March 2021.
Before Justice Costa, Justice Benfeito Mosso Ramos (“Justice Ramos”) was a panellist
and Vice-president of the Court 2009 to 2014. Justice Ramos also served as Advisory Judge of the Cabo Verdean Supreme Court of Justice. Justice Ramos is a member of the Judicial Council of the Court – a department which is responsible for
the recruitment and discipline of the judges of the Court – and before him Justice
Fatima Coronel had fulfilled the same role.
Saab was arrested and detained in Cape Verde based on the request of the Donald Trump led United States government during a stop over on his way to Iran over allegations of money laundering, a move the Venezuelan government faulted with claims that the businessman is its special envoy on a humanitarian mission.
The Venezuelan government claimed that before his arrest, Saab had been on a mission to get food and medical supplies in Iran, stopping over in Cape Verde where he was arrested by security operatives.
The failure of Cape Verdean authorities to obey the ruling of the ECOWAS court by extraditing Saab to the US is not the first contempt for court order by the authorities since his detention last year.
Saab was denied access to any member of his defense team despite three court rulings granting him the right to do so.
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