On March 2015, the ECOWAS court delivered its judgement ordering the release of Venezuelan Diplomat Alex Saab. The world watches as the Cabo Verdean government makes its play in its refusal to comply with the verdict of the Regional Court. PM NEWS caught up recently with one of the most respected voices of justice in Africa. In this interview, Femi Falana sheds light on the violation of Alex Saab’s unlawful incarceration and other matters surrounding it.
We have been following your vocal advocacy for the rule of law to take precedence in Cape Verde’s treatment of Venezuelan Diplomat, Alex Saab. Currently, what is your stance on the matter?
I am of the strong opinion that Ambassador Alex Saab’s persecution is illegal, that it is unjust and is unfair, unfair and unjust. It cannot be supported under international law, even under the law of Cape Verde, the persecution cannot be justified. I therefore demand the immediate and unconditional release of Mr Alex Saab from illegal detention. Even under the law of Cape Verde, under Cape Verdean law, it cannot be justified. Yes, yes, I want to say something that under international law, under Cape Verdean law, under the law of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, the persecution cannot be justified.
Is there separation of powers in Cape Verde as such? and, what is the role of the United States in the arrest of Alex Saab?
Under the legal system of Cape Verde, there is supposed to be an independent judiciary. The judiciary is independent under the law, but Cape Verde is under such tremendous pressure from the United States of America. Hence, Mr Alex Saab is a subject of persecution. But since the ECOWAS Court has ordered the release of Mr Alex Saab and cancelled the extradition! Since the ECOWAS Court has already done that, the ECOWAS Court has declared the arrest and detention of Mr Alex Saab illegal and cancelled the extradition. We are calling on the government of Cape Verde to comply with the judgment of the ECOWAS Court. We are also calling on the United States government to respect the rule of law and human rights in Africa. Since Mr Joe Biden, the President of the United States of America explained to the whole world, that he wants to operate under the rule of law. He must respect the rule of law in Africa, and it is the handling of Mr Alex Saab’s case by the United States of America that will show and demonstrate what America believes that there is rule of law in Africa. We are asking Mr Joe Biden to put politics aside, to put sentiment aside and comply with the judgment of the ECOWAS Court without any
What is lawyer Femi Falana’s view on the economic and commercial blockade and the humanitarian work that ambassador Saab was carrying out to provide Venezuela with food, fuel and medication?
Well, it’s a humanitarian mission, Mr Alex Saab was on the way of the humanitarian mission at the time he was arrested in Cape Verde at the instance of the United States of America. This is so unjust. It is unacceptable. And under international law, it cannot be defended. Under the instigation of the United States of America, and it has no basis in law. You cannot under international law, under the Vienna Convention, an ambassador and diplomat cannot be arrested, so the inviolability of Mr Alex Saab has been violated by Cape Verde. Secondly, he made a brief stop over Cape Verde to refuel, Cape Verde was not his destination. He made a stopover in Cape Verde to refuel so that he could continue his journey. After refuelling, he was not allowed to move, he was not allowed to continue the journey to Iran. Mr Alex Saab was arrested before the Red Notice was issued by the INTERPOL. So which means that the detention and the arrest is illegal.
He was arrested before the receipt of the Red Notice from INTERPOL by Cape Verde. Under the law, under the criminal procedural Court of Cape Verde, you cannot be arrested on the basis of the Red Notice. Cannot, it cannot, it cannot there must be a warrant of arrest. So far, there is no warrant of arrest for Mr Alex Saab, so far, none, the warrant of arrest issued was not in respect of Mr Alex Saab. Furthermore, if there is a Red Notice and the warrant of arrest, that would be an application before the domestic court in Cape Verde. So, the order of detention made by the court in Cape Verde is illegal because it was based on an illegal, it was based on an illegal arrest, an illegal warrant of arrest, an illegal Red Notice.
Mr. Falana, I want to know if Cape Verdean officials were bribed or paid money by the United States, if there was any kind of bribe? Also, have Ambassador Saab’s lawyers been allowed to see him.
I am not aware of whether any payment was made. I deal with the evidence that I’m familiar with. I am not aware whether any payment was made, but there are political pressures. The second question, the ECOWAS Court ordered that Mr Alex Saab be put under the house arrest because of his status as an ambassador. He was ordered to be detained under the house arrest and the lawyers and the members of his family are
entitled to visit him. So far, only a member of the defence team, Dr Pinto Monteiro, has
been allowed to visit him, but the members of his family have not been allowed to visit him, other lawyers have not been allowed to visit him, contrary to the orders of the Court. And this is additional evidence of persecution because this is against the United Nations
minimum standard for the treatment of prisoners.
Thank you for this interview, for your time and for your defense of justice and fairness at all times, and for shedding light on this matter of important legal discourse regarding Venezuela’s ambassador Alex Saab.
Thank you. My regards to the journalists doing the great work of bringing truth to the fore and may I also say, it’s been my pleasure to intervene on the side of justice and human rights and rule of law in Africa. The law is on his side, justice is on his side, on the side of Alex Saab. I also want to point out that contrary to the frivolous allegation that Mr Alex Saab was involved in money laundering, the Geneva special prosecutor has cleared him of money laundering charges. We are therefore convinced that Mr Alex Saab’s freedom is around the corner.