CAPE VERDE TAKES ON THE UNITED NATIONS
Praia, 29 June 2021
In a decision on interim measures dated June 8, the United Nations Human Rights Committee called on Cape Verde to ‘refrain from extraditing Mr. Alex Saab to the United States of America” and to “take all necessary measures to ensure access to appropriate health care […] by independent and specialized physicians of his choice”. This decision ordering interim measures is the first urgent step resulting from the registration of a complaint filed by Alex Saab before United Nations Human Rights Committee.
In an interview on June 29, 2021, the Cape Verdean Prosecutor General, Mr Jose Luis Landim, makes a frontal attack on the United Nations, claiming that the UN Human Rights Committee does not have the competence to impose the suspension of the extradition of Alex Saab from Cape Verde to the United States of America.
Such a position is alarming and is a legal, strategic and ethical mistake.
First, this position is completely wrong in law. We would like to remind Mr Landim that Cape Verde has chosen to ratify the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since August 6, 1993 and the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights since May 19, 2000. It must therefore comply with its international obligations in good faith and fully respect the decisions of the expert body responsible for interpreting the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Human Rights Committee. Saying that the Committee does not have the power to request the suspension of an extradition that may expose someone to risks of irreparable harms and of violations of the right to life and right of physical integrity, is an unforgivable legal error totally incompatible with the rule of law.
Second, such a position is a frontal attack on the United Nations and the human rights that are at the heart of the values that the Organization defends. It sends a clear message to the world that Cape Verde can exercise its sovereignty to violate human rights while ignoring the norms of international human rights law to which it has subscribed and ignoring international decisions. In doing so, Cape Verde, after defying the ECOWAS Court of Justice which ordered it to release the arbitrarily detained Alex Saab, after violating Alex Saab’s diplomatic immunity as a Special Envoy and an Ambassador to the African Union, is taking a hostile stance towards the United Nations and placing itself on the outside of the international community.
Third, such a position is a mistake in terms of fundamental ethical values. By requesting the suspension of Alex Saab’s extradition pending the examination of the merits of the case, the Human Rights Committee was inviting Cape Verde to show humanity and common sense by considering that the extradition would be detrimental to the physical integrity and life of Alex Saab. The Committee did not take a political position, but a purely humanitarian one.