Group takes on Cape Verde Supreme Court over Alex Saab’s habeas corpus application dismissal

Alex Saab

A US humanitarian group says the Supreme Court of Cape Verde erred in dismissing a habeas corpus application filed by the lawyers of Alex Saab.

A habeas corpus application is used to bring a detainee before a court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.

The lawyers of Alex Saab wanted to know the legality of the businessman’s detention under house arrest.

But the Cape Verde Supreme Court in a recent ruling said someone who is under house arrest cannot be said to be in a detention such that he or she can apply a habeas corpus.

The Cape Verde Supreme Court in it’s ruling dismissed the application on the grounds that house arrest is not a detention that can be challenged by habeas corpus.

But the group, But the said in a statement that “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,” it added.

Citing reports by the UN Human Rights Committee, the group said being under house arrest is a form of deprivation of one’s liberties hence can make a habeas corpus application.

“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,” the group said, adding that, “Ambassador Saab cannot not move freely outside the house where he is detained and is kept under constant surveillance by armed or plain-clothed guards. The house is under the permanent watch of police officers heavily armed and drones are watching the patio and the house. There is no doubt that this is a deprivation of liberty and that the full judicial guarantees must apply.”

The humanitarian group said the court’s ruling is contrary to international protocols for the protection of human rights and is a “blatant erroneous interpretation of the law.”

The petition for habeas corpus was filed last week by the lawyer for Alex Saab.

Alex Saab was arrested in June 2020 in hsi way to Iran and was put in prison for a while before being sent kept under house arrest after a court order.

His lawyers have since been fighting to secure his release and also stop processes to extradite him to the US to face charges of money laundering and corruption.

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