The legal team of the Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab has kicked against the ruling of the Cape Verde Supreme Court, describing it as legally erroneous.
The habeas corpus application, to question his continued detention, by the defence team of embattled Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, was rejected by the Cape Verde Supreme Court.
In its ruling, the Court based its decision on the argument that Saab’s detention which is im the form of house arrest is not detention and as such can’t be challenged by habeas corpus.
Reacting, the Saab’s team noted that the court’s ruling is a legally erroneous one which can’t be defended anywhere rule of law truly exists.
“No higher court in any State governed by the rule of law is in principle likely to adopt such an interpretation. Thus, the position of the Supreme Court of Cape Verde shocks the universal legal conscience and defies the most elementary fundamental rights,” Saab’s team noted.
The Saab’s team argued that the court’s ruling is faulty based on two reasons.
The legal team explained that it is not disputed in international human rights law, which is fully applicable to this case, that these conditions of deprivation of liberty, including house arrest, amount to detention.
This position has been reiterated by the United Nations Human Rights Committee, the European Court of Human Rights and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention in their constant jurisprudence.
Saab’s team noted that in adopting the position, according to which placing someone in house arrest under the conditions experienced by Saab, is not a deprivation of liberty, the Supreme Court of Cape Verde violates human rights law.
In international human rights law, the notion of deprivation of liberty contains both an objective element of a person’s confinement in a particular restricted space for a not negligible length of time, and an additional subjective element in that the person has not validly consented to the confinement in question.
For the Human Rights Committee there is no doubt that “deprivation of liberty involves more severe restriction of motion within a narrower space than mere interference with liberty of movement.” The United Nations Committee expressly quotes as examples of deprivation of liberty police custody [and] house arrest.”
On another hand, the team argued that by violating international human rights law and claiming that the detention of Alex Saab is not a deprivation of liberty, the Supreme Court of Cape Verde does not simply commit a blatant erroneous interpretation of the law, it also aims to prevent the application of judicial guarantees that protect, in civilized nations and respecting the rule of law, any person deprived of liberty. Among these guarantees, habeas corpus, which dates back to Roman antiquity, has the universal vocation of allowing a person deprived of liberty to challenge the detention before a judge.
“The positions adopted by the Supreme Court of Cape Verde regarding habeas corpus in the case of the arbitrary detention of Ambassador Saab are totally erroneous and legally indefensible. But they are also excessively dangerous for the rule of law and human rights because by adopting such positions the Supreme Court of Cape Verde destroys piece by piece all the constitutional and human rights which have no other objective than to protect individuals against the arbitrariness of power.”
“Instead of playing its role as a guarantor of human rights, the Supreme Court of Cabo Verde is showing itself to the world as the gravedigger of human rights and the rule of law.”
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.
The Venezuelan government faulted this 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.