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Alex Saab: Human Rights Lawyer, Femi Falana Seeks Sanctions Against Cabo Verde

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Alex Saab

Following the Republic of Cabo Verde’s refusal to release Special Envoy and Ambassador, Alex Saab from custody, Mr Femi Falana (SAN), lead ECOWAS counsel of the Ambassador has put efforts in place to impose sanctions against the government of Cabo Verde.

Falana has on Wednesday, March 24th, 2021 submitted a motion to the Community Court of Justice requesting the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS Community (Authority) to impose sanctions against the government officials of Cabo Verde responsible for the violations of human rights.

The motion aims to establish a travel ban throughout the ECOWAS Member States against some Cabo Verde government officials including their family members.

Some of the government officials are Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca, President of Cabo Verde; José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cabo Verde; Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares, Minister of Foreign and Community Affairs and Minister of Defense of the Republic of Cabo Verde.

Others are: Paulo Augusto Rocha, Minister of Home Affairs of Cabo Verde; Janine Tatiana Santos Lélis, Minister of Justice and Labour of Cabo Verde; Luís José Tavares Landim, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Cabo Verde.

The motion also contains financial measures such as suspension of new ECOWAS loans, disbursement of on-going ECOWAS projects or assistance programs to Cabo Verde, exclusion from presenting Candidates for statutory and professional posts of the Respondent in ECOWAS, suspension of voting rights in ECOWAS and participation in the activities of ECOWAS.

According to Mr Falana, “Cabo Verde’s behaviour is unacceptable and flies in the face of its international obligations as well as centuries-old international law governing the movement of diplomats and political agents.

“If Cape Verde is allowed to continue down the path which it is currently travelling the consequences for the conduct of global diplomacy will be catastrophic.”

It should be noted that Cabo Verde despite the previous posturing had eventually complied with the Court’s earlier decision of 2 December 2020 which ordered Cabo Verde to transfer Mr Saab under house arrest.

Meanwhile, the ECOWAS Court on March 15th, 2021 delivered a binding judgement, calling for the immediate release of Alex Saab from custody which was considered illegal.

The Court, in the said judgement, confirmed that the arrest of Mr Saab was illegal, having been carried out without the existence of an INTERPOL Red Notice and an arrest warrant.

The Court, thereafter, ordered the authorities of Cabo Verde to immediately release Special Envoy Saab and terminate the extradition process which Special Envoy Saab has been undergoing at the request of the United States.

It was also added that a sum of $200,000.00 should be paid to Saab as a way of compensation.

In response, the Government of Cabo Verde stated that: “the position of the Prosecutor General’s Office has not changed in relation to the extradition process of Mr. Alex Saab or regarding the acceptance of jurisdiction or the supremacy of the jurisprudence of the ECOWAS Court of Justice over the domestic legal order.”

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