The African Bar Association (AFBA) says Cape Verde’s disregard for the ECOWAS court’s March 2021 ruling on the Alex Saab case is an affront to the authority of the sub-regional body and must not be countenanced.
In a statement issued by the Chairman of Media and Publicity Committee of the Association, Osa Director, the African Bar Association said the refusal of Cape Verde to comply with the court’s orders could set a bad precedent and “must be decisively addressed in order not to bring the authority to disrepute.”
Cape Verde currently sits at the center of the controversial Alex Saab case as it has had custody of him since June 2020 when it arrested him.
There is a currently a brouhaha over Mr. Saab’s extradition to the US to face criminal charges.
While Cape Verde has agreed to a request by the US to extradite him and make him face charges there, the Venezuelan government, and Mr. Saab’s lawyers are against Cape Verde’s position.
The ECOWAS court, where the defence lawyers filed a case to challenge the extradition, on March 15, 2021 delivered a final judgement instructing Cape Verde to refrain from extraditing the businessman and also compensate him with $200,000 for the arrest which the court described as “illegal”.
A day after that ruling, the court in Cape Verde also ruled that Mr. Saab should be extradited.
The government of Cape Verde has since taken the position that it is not obliged to comply with the ECOWAS court’s ruling, a stance organizations such as the African Bar Associations have expressed regret over.
The association in its statement was of the view that, “wilful and unlawful disobedience of the Machinery of Justice in the Sub-region back-tracts Africa to the dark ages and does not portray the Sub-region in good light. It is also capable of destroying the Court and making it a laughing stock.”
It said there is the potential of the ECOWAS court’s name being brought into disrepute especially in the eyes of foreigners who will perceive it as unreliable.
” Violation of a Court Judgement is an anathema which should not be encouraged or tolerated by any responsible Government or Nation. It is our respectful view that unless Cape Verde immediately return to the path of Legality by giving effect to the Court Judgement, it will be setting a very dangerous precedent that will come back to hunt her in the near future,” the association warned.
The lawyers said having the fear that the ECOWAS court may lose its integrity and respect over the stance of Cape Verde, it is appealing to the country to, in the interest of Africa and the ECOWAS obey the court’s ruling.