The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) court has again adjourned the case between Alex Saab, Venezuelan diplomat and Cape Verde to Monday, March 15.
Our correspondent gathered that Saab’s case was adjourned again due to the absence of translators.
Investigation made by our correspondent revealed that Saab’s case has been adjourned for the third time within the space of three months by the ECOWAS court in Abuja.
Meanwhile, the Barlavento Court of Appeal had already ruled twice in January on appeal by the defense for the extradition of Alex Saab to the United States.
Findings conducted by our correspondent revealed that the adjournment of the hearing of Saab’s case has been criticized to be awashed with political undertones hinged on the connivance between the United States and the Cape Verdean government led by Ulisses Correia e Silva.
It was revealed that the style of Saab’s arrest is a replica of a recent method to trigger detention and or deportation by a host country’s institutions as highlighted in a report on The Global Scale and Scope of Transnational Repression by Freedom House.
Before Saab, the United States held Russian national Alexey Kharis for 15 months in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention after being arrested on the basis of an Interpol notice.
In the last two decades, numerous governments have learned that red notices, which was used in Saab’s case, and other notifications provide a cheap and easy means of reaching exiles.
‘The Arrest Of Saab’
According to reports gathered by our correspondent, Saab, 49, was arrested on June 12, during a technical stopover at Amilcar Cabral International Airport on the island of Sal, by Interpol and the Cape Verdean authorities when he was returning from a trip to Iran on behalf of Venezuela.
His arrest was based on an international arrest warrant issued by the United States of America (USA).
The Venezuelan government has been demanding the release of Alex Saab with the argument that at the time of his arrest in Sal, he had diplomatic immunity.
Saab’s continued detention follows a pattern of coercive measures by the US against Venezuela which began in 2005 when it introduced selective sanctions against individuals and entities allegedly involved in drug trafficking. after President Hugo Chávez had declared the culmination of all joint operations and military exchanges with the Pentagon, a measure that was not to the liking of the US government.
Contrary to popular belief, Interpol is not an international police agency, nor does it have a judicial function to determine the veracity of notices before they enter the system.
It simply allows member states to share notifications about wanted criminals or missing persons with one another.
In 2006, an embargo was imposed on Venezuela by the US because it considered that the Government was not sufficiently cooperating in anti-terrorist efforts.
The US government action in 2006 was triggered by a 2005 declaration by President Hugo Chávez which led to the culmination of all joint operations and military exchanges with the Pentagon.
Similarly, in 2015, Barack Obama through an Executive Order declared Venezuela an unusual and extraordinary threat to the security of the United States.
The executive order, which was joined by six other countries, was issued by the administration of Donald Trump. The US has also issued more measures to undermine the Venezuelan economy and the quality of life of the population since 2017.
According to a report by a United Nations Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan the “coercive measures” against the country has aggravated the problems of the
mono-oriented Venezuelan economy.
However, Saab’s counsel led by Femi Falana SAN, a Nigerian human right activist lawyer, is scared of a more bigger problem and precedence the Saab’s case will create.
This is because no individual with diplomatic immunity has ever been extradited, also very rarely arrested, except for serious acts where guilt is evident.
According to Diplomatic relations experts, if Saab should be extradited, it will have great consequences for the diplomatic world. It could also lead to lifting of immunity of Cape Verdean diplomatic representatives and lawsuits against the country in the International Court of Justice for violations of the Vienna Convention.
The precedent Saab’s case could set will also seriously expose all diplomatic agents, their families, as well as special envoys, whose principles of immunity and inviolability could occasionally be called into question in an opportunistic manner by the receiving state based on allegations of non-compliance with formal notification requirements.
According to Craig Barker, a professor of international law at London South Bank University, it is vital to prevent ambassadors and other embassy staff being harassed and hauled before courts on spurious grounds in an effort to prevent them doing their job. “It’s an essential tool. It protects our diplomats serving abroad,”Baker said.
The actions of Cape Verde, on the order of the US government, is also in violation of the Convention signals contempt for international norms. This indicates that with that one nation-state believes it can violate the rights it accords another as it will.
While warning the US against its actions, John B. Bellinger III, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote in The New York Times that the country must not ignore abuse of domestic workers or
other offenses committed by foreign diplomats in the U.S. but it would be a mistake to create exceptions to diplomatic immunity.
This is necessary because, according to him, it would greatly endanger U.S. diplomats who serve around the world.
“If American diplomats did not have immunity, they would be at constant risk of detention and prosecution on trumped-up charges, especially in countries where the United States is unpopular or where the government bows to popular pressure,” he added.