The defence team of Alex Saab, has challenged the claim by Cape Verde that the United Nations Human Rights Committee does not have the competence to impose the suspension of the planned extradition of the embattled diplomat from to the United States of America, describing it as completely unlawful.
Nigeria Standard recalled that the United Nations Human Rights Committee has called on Cape Verde to “refrain from extraditing Mr. Alex Saab to the United States of America” and to “take all necessary measures to ensure access to appropriate health care by independent and specialized physicians of his choice”.
The UN made the call following the registration of a complaint filed by Saab, in a decision on interim measures dated June 8.
Th Cape Verdean Prosecutor General, Mr Jose Luis Landim however in an interview on June 29, 2021 insisted that it lacked the competent to impose on the country the suspension of the extradition process of Colombian businessman Alex Saab.
“If there is a complaint of violation of human rights, what [the Committee] has to do is investigate and investigate. If it finds out that there is such a violation, it informs the United Nations, but it does not have the power to impose on the country the suspension of an ongoing process in court”, he told journalists, in Praia, after an audience with the president of the Assembly National, Austelino Correia.
He explained further that should the country comply with the order, it would jeopardize the sovereignty of its sovereignty, where the courts are independent.
“So it’s something strange, but you don’t want me to say more about it because we already expressed this position in the process, which was surrounded by a lot, a lot of media, a lot of false news and we always try to intervene in the process and make it clear that there is no legal basis for suspending this process”, Landim added.
Reacting to this claim, Saab’s team, in a statement on Wednesday morning, noted that the claim by the Cape Verde authorities is wrong for three reasons.
“First, this position is completely wrong in law. We would like to remind Mr Landim that Cape Verde has chosen to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since August 6, 1993 and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since May 19, 2000.
“It must therefore comply with its international obligations in good faith and fully respect the decisions of the expert body responsible for interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee. Saying that the Committee does not have the power to request the suspension of an extradition that may expose someone to risks of irreparable harms and of violations of the right to life and right of physical integrity, is an unforgivable legal error totally incompatible with the rule of law.”
Similarly, the team argued that the position is a frontal attack on the United Nations and the human rights that are at the heart of the values that the Organization defends because it sends a clear message to the world that Cape Verde can exercise its sovereignty to violate human rights while ignoring the norms of international human rights law to which it has subscribed and ignoring international decisions.
In doing so, Cape Verde, after defying the ECOWAS Court of Justice which ordered it to release the arbitrarily detained Alex Saab, after violating Alex Saab’s diplomatic immunity as a Special Envoy and an Ambassador to the African Union, is taking a hostile stance towards the United Nations and placing itself on the outside of the international community.
“Third, such a position is a mistake in terms of fundamental ethical values. By requesting the suspension of Alex Saab’s extradition pending the examination of the merits of the case, the Human Rights Committee was inviting Cape Verde to show humanity and common sense by considering that the extradition would be detrimental to the physical integrity and life of Alex Saab. The Committee did not take a political position, but a purely humanitarian one,” the team added.
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.