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‘Don’t support impunity’ — Falana asks Biden to facilitate Alex Saab’s release

‘Don’t support impunity’ — Falana asks Biden to facilitate Alex Saab’s release
May 17
19:16 2021

Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, has asked US President Joe Biden to prevail on Cape Verde to honour a court order on the release of Alex Saab, a Venezuelan envoy.

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Saab was arrested in June 2020, after his private jet made a stopover in Cape Verde on his way to Iran for a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Venezuelan government.

The businessman is caught up in a feud between Venezuela, his country, and the US.

The US had reportedly put pressure on Cape Verde to arrest Saab with plans of extraditing him to face corruption charges.

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In a letter dated May 17 and addressed to Biden, Falana said Saab’s case is a true test for the US president to show that his administration will never support habits of governments ignoring court orders.

He said the US, under Biden’s watch, should not support impunity and efforts of Cape Verde’s authorities to undermine the authority of the West African human rights court.

“Mr. President, I would like to inform you that I am the lead counsel for a Venezuelan diplomat, Alex Saab, who continues to be arbitrarily detained by the Republic of Cape Verde since 12 June 2020 at the request of the United States of America, despite a court judgment ordering his immediate release,” the letter reads.

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“Given your track record, I am confident that you would be true to your words, and that, especially in the realm of human rights and respect for the rule of law, Africans and Africa’s legal institutions, can count on your support.

“In a judgment delivered on March 15, 2021, the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States (“the ECOWAS Court”) declared the detention of Mr. Saab illegal, ordered his immediate release from custody and the cessation of the extradition process to the United States.

“Mr. Saab’s case is a true test case for your administration to show that it will never support or encourage the habit of governments simply ignoring court orders. In this respect, I urge your administration to make clear to the authorities in Cape Verde the importance of respect for human rights and the rule of law by immediately taking effective steps to enforce the ECOWAS Court judgment, and to release Mr. Saab from arbitrary detention.

“The United States Government under your watch should not support or encourage the impunity, and the efforts by the authorities in Cape Verde to undermine the integrity and authority of the West African human rights court.

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“I am therefore appealing to your Excellency to use your good offices and leadership to review the decision of the United State Government in this matter for the sake of justice, human rights and the rule of law.”

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