Nigerian senior lawyer and human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN) has petitioned Juan Gonzalez, special aide to the United States of America’s President Joe Biden over the continued detention of Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab by Cape Verde.

 

Falana expressed his displeasure, in the letter, about the case as he stated that the US government was aiding Cape Verde to violate the envoy’s human rights. 
 

Femi Falana, SAN.

The legal practitioner also accused the US of mounting pressure on Cape Verde to disregard binding decisions from the ECOWAS Court of Justice which ruled that Saab’s detention was illegal, thus his extradition process be terminated.

 

Falana also revealed how disappointed he was that he had written President Biden twice on the matter, but got no response from him.

 

A copy of the letter dated July 2, 2021, signed by Falana was made available to SaharaReporters on Friday.

 

Saab, a Special Envoy of Venezuela and Alternate Permanent Representative of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela to the African Union, while on a special humanitarian mission to Iran on behalf of Venezuela, was arrested and has been detained in Cape Verde since June 12, 2020.

 

He was to be extradited to the US to face money laundering charges.

Despite a ruling by the ECOWAS Court of Justice on 15 March 2021, declaring that his arrest and detention were arbitrary, ordering his immediate release and the termination of the extradition proceedings against him, he still remains in detention in Cape Verde.

 

Falana, however, said in the letter, “I have written to President Biden twice in the past few months in respect of the illegal detention of Ambassador Alex Saab, however, disappointingly received no reply. Perhaps I may be luckier with you.


“I have read with great interest your attributed comments on how you wish for the matter of Alex Saab and his extradition to the United States from the Republic of Cape Verde be dealt with without political interference.


“As ambassador Saab's lead ECOWAS counsel I congratulate you on your wise words. However, we both know that the only political pressure that is being applied in this case is by the United States on Cape Verde.


“You have expressed a desire for the rule of law to prevail in relation to Ambassador Saab’s extradition and illegal detention, yet the United States has mounted pressure on Cape Verde to ignore binding decisions from the ECOWAS Court of Justice declaring Ambassador Saab’s detention to be illegal and the extradition process be terminated.


“The United States has also pressurised Cape Verde to ignore rulings from the United Nations Human Rights Committee that the extradition process being carried out against Ambassador Saab be halted.


“It is undoubtedly clear that it is the United States that has pushed Cape Verde to ignore Ambassador Saab’s immunity and inviolability and it is the United States which has pushed Cape Verde to ignore the findings of the respected Geneva public prosecutor, who after a three-year investigation has declared that there is no basis for supporting allegations of money laundering against Ambassador Saab.


“I ask you therefore Mr Gonzales which rule of law precisely is it that you would like Cape Verde to follow? One that is dictated by the United States in pursuit of its selfish politically motivated judicial overreach or one that is based upon long established international law and binding treaties between independent sovereign states?

 
“It appears that you are not even willing to allow Cape Verde to follow its own Constitution and laws! It may interest you to know that the maximum time permitted for the Honourable Constitutional Court to rule on Ambassadors Saab’s appeal has now lapsed and there is no option but for him to be immediately released. Perhaps you will instruct Prime Minister Ulisses Correia on which law he is permitted to follow whilst he is in Washington these next few days?


“I put it to you Mr Gonzalez that the United States has no interest in the due legal process being followed when it comes to Ambassador Saab. The interest of the United States is only that its political will alone be obeyed no matter what cost has to be borne by Cape Verde.


“If the United States truly means what you say then, please explain to the entire world, which is listening to your words and measuring them against your actions, what gives you the right to place your political hegemony above the requirements of customary international law?”

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