AfBA Urges AU, ECOWAS to Effect Release of Venezuela Envoy

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The African Bar Association (AfBA) has called on the African Heads of States and governments to rise as a body, and persuade the authorities of the Cape Verde Island to rescue itself from the diplomatic mud of holding on to Ambassador Alex Saab, accredited Venezuela Special Envoy and Alternate permanent representative to the African Union.

AfBA’s President, Mr. Hannibal Uwaifo, who made the call in a World Press Conference in Lagos, said the continued detention of Saab since June 2020 for possible extradition to the United States, violated settled global diplomatic virtues and statutes, as contained in the Vienna Convention.

He argued that Cape Verde’s action, according to investigation by the Human Rights Committee and review by the AFBA Executive Committee, was found to be clearly below the accepted international rules of engagements.

He described the detention of the envoy as not only unsanitary but totally unsalutory to Africa’s collective diplomatic decency and stature.

“We demand that Alex Saab should be released immediately and his persecution and chastisement in custody illegally in Cape Verde merely to satisfy the whims of a super power be brought to an end immediately as ordered by the binding unanimous ECOWAS Court ruling on December 2, 2020.”

He added: “We acted on the petition of Ambassador Saab’s wife, which revealed that aside her husband being a known cancer patient, denied his drugs, denied access to family and defense attorneys, stripped of his diplomatic privileges against ECOWAS Court injunction to the contrary, he is viciously and frantically being packaged for delivery to the US by Cape Verde government, facilitated by enormous pressure through a contrived extradition procurement, with unimaginable damage to our civility and civilization, if ever allowed to stand in any African soil”.

“For us in AfBA, as a continental body of lawyers dedicated to the primacy of the rule of law, as the most disruptive evolution for human governance, our moral and professional duty is relentless and persistent to see it respected, preserved, improved on, not liberally pissed upon as the case under reference by President Jorge Carlos Fonseca and Prime Minister Ulisses Correia Silva of Cape Verde”. He said it was more pathetic that the choice for this scheme of intransigence is in Africa by a sovereign African nation, a participatory signatory to AU Charter on Human and Peoples Rights, and ECOWAS protocols, on a documented diplomatic citizen with no known crime and offence in the land of his capture, detention and incarceration.

“That is not only a flagrant abuse of the elementary principles of the rule of law, but also an aggravating circumstance for the intentional culpability by Cape Verde,” the statement said.

AfBA noted that Saab, as a Special Envoy of Venezuela duly accredited to the AU, was travelling from Caracas to Teheran on June 12, 2020.

According to the group, his plane made a technical refuelling stop on the Cape Verdean Island of Sal, when he was detained unlawfully.