Falana Seeks ECOWAS Sanctions Against Cape Verde President, Others For Refusing To Release Diplomat

A human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana has filed a suit asking the Economic Community of West African States to sanction Cape Verde for its refusal to release a Venezuelan Ambassador Alex Saab.

Falana, the lead counsel for the ECOWAS defending the Special Envoy, Saab submitted a motion to the Community Court of Justice demanding the Authority of Heads of State and Government of ECOWAS to impose sanctions against the Republic of Cape Verde.

He described the sanction as necessary for failing to fulfil its requirements as the member state of ECOWAS and conform with the binding judgement of the Honorable Court delivered on 15 March, 2021.

This was contained in the details of the suit sighted by SaharaReporters on Wednesday.

Saab was detained by Cape Verde under very controversial circumstances and in violation of International Law and ECOWAS Protocols. 

The suit read, “In the said judgement, the Court 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 ordered the authorities of Cape 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 and a sum of $200,000.00 be paid by way of compensation.

“In response, the Government of Cape 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'”. 

It further stated that, “The defence has requested therefore that the Authority impose sanctions against the government officials of Cabo Verde (Cape Verde) responsible for the violations of human rights. The motion is seeking to establish a travel ban throughout the ECOWAS member states against the following Cape Verde government officials including their family members:

“Jorge Carlos de Almeida Fonseca, President of Cape Verde, José Ulisses de Pina Correia e Silva, Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Rui Alberto de Figueiredo Soares, Minister of Foreign and Community Affairs and Minister of Defense of the Republic of Cape Verde, Paulo Augusto Rocha, Minister of Home Affairs of Cape Verde, Janine Tatiana Santos Lélis, Minister of Justice and Labour of Cape Verde, Luís José Tavares Landim, Prosecutor General of the Republic of Cape Verde.

“The motion also contains request for various financial measures such as suspension of new ECOWAS loans, disbursement of ongoing ECOWAS projects or assistance programmes 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.”

Falana said, “Cape 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.”

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