Statement from the Álex Saab defense team.
"The men who order and oversee this show of shame, this tragic farce, are frightened by the word... the power of the pen" Ken Saro-Wiwa.
In the end it lasted 491 days. Probably 484 days longer than many thought possible when they learned of the detention of Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab on June 12, 2020. Alex Saab had often speculated in musings with his local defense team that his stay in Cape Verde would end with a "kidnapping". So it was.
But why now, one day before the presidential elections in Cape Verde? It is rumored that the incoming president, José Maria Neves, after seeing from the sidelines the havoc that Prime Minister Ulisses Correia and outgoing President Jorge Fonseca were wreaking on his country's reputation, had confided to his aides that, if he won the elections Sunday, he would use his presidential authority to release Alex Saab on humanitarian grounds, given the significant deterioration in his health. The news reached the United States and its supporters in the government of Ulisses Correia and the rest, as they say, is history.
The irony of all this is that President José Neves is the same man who, as Prime Minister at the time, negotiated and actively participated in the drafting of the 2005 Cedeao Protocol of the Court of Justice, which expanded the Tribunal's mandate to cover the human rights cases. However, he had to return on the eve of the signing ceremony to attend to an urgent matter in Cape Verde, so he was unable to sign the Protocol within the framework of the closing ceremony of the Cedeao Summit of Heads of State.
The signing, or not actually signing, of the Protocol has played a very important role in the judicial process faced by Alex Saab in Cape Verde. On March 15 and again on June 24 of this year, the Cedeao Court of Justice ruled that Saab's arrest and detention were illegal, that he should be immediately released and that the extradition process be terminated. the one he faced. Article 11 (2) of the Protocol establishes that it becomes binding on all [Cedeao] member states once it is signed by nine of the fifteen members. In the end, 14 of the 15 Member States signed, with Cape Verde being the missing signature.
One might think that the position as to the binding nature of the decisions of the Cedeao Court of Justice would be perfectly clear. Think again and welcome to the wonderful and twisted logic of the State of Cape Verde under the command of Jorge Fonseca and Ulisses Correia. Cabo Verde, who, despite having appointed judges to the Cedeao Court during these years, having actively participated in the Cedeao process against Alex Saab, having testified twice before the Court and even having Asked for a review of the decisions, it nevertheless stated that it did not recognize the jurisdiction of the Tribunal and that the latter's decisions were not binding on Cape Verde, since Cape Verde had not signed the Protocol.
It was only necessary for José Neves to get up and announce what he understood at the time of negotiating the Protocol, what he understood of the binding nature or not of the decisions of the Cedeao Court on Cape Verde, but in an act of extreme cowardice he remained reserved. He was silent and may have sentenced an innocent man to months of cruel and inhuman treatment at the hands of the US federal prison system.
The government led by Ulisses Correia has further diminished its regional and global prestige by ignoring the resolutions of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and four other special rapporteurs and a United Nations task force. The people of Cape Verde must understand the actions that have been carried out on their behalf and that have resulted in the deterioration of Cape Verde's position in Cedeao, in Africa and in the world. So much effort for so little benefit. So much contortion, obfuscation and half-truths just for America to get what it wants, but not caring about the consequences. Of the many convoluted decisions that Ulisses Correia has presided over in the last 16 months, the rejection of the orders of the Cedeao Court of Justice and the recommendations of the United Nations Human Rights Committee are the most surprising. It is unheard of for a small nation, which depends on the willingness of the larger nations to accept the decisions of international tribunals and multilateral bodies in order for the world order to function, to reject in the carefree and disrespectful way in which Cape Verde discarded the decisions. decisions of March 15 and June 24 of the Cedeao Court and the opinions of June 8 and 16 of the Human Rights Committee. It is inconceivable that Cape Verde would have taken that position without the cajoling and advice of a powerful ally.
This is just one example of how Cape Verde's facade has collapsed and been torn down when political expediency has triumphed over the rule of law. The last 16 months have provided us with a unique insight into Cape Verde's political and social systems as they have been put to the test by the Covid-19 pandemic and ultimately proved insufficient. The vast majority of decent, hardworking Cape Verdeans would emigrate if they could, and hundreds of thousands have already left for the United States, where more people of Cape Verdean origin reside than in the archipelago nation itself.
On the other hand, the political and social elite, numbering a couple hundred people at most, run the country like a country club with restricted membership, membership of which is strictly determined by lineage. This elite have all their homes in the former colonial power of Portugal, many have houses in the Boston area, and all have been educated at the best universities in Portugal or the state universities in and around New England. We have seen their vanities, their insecurities and their exaggerated sense of self-worth up close. But more than anything, it is the well-established and well-documented Cocaine Superhighway that runs from South America to Europe via Cape Verde that maintains this elite in the style they have become accustomed to. A fact that obviously has not escaped the DEA of the United States.
So, as we say goodbye to Cape Verde, what does the future hold for the area's five hundred and fifty thousand inhabitants? The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the local tourism industry to the point that some believe it will never recover to pre-Covid levels. This is probably an overly pessimistic view, as world tourism appears to be recovering faster than many would have predicted even three months ago. However, the soft loans and investments of the European Union are likely to be reviewed, in view of Cape Verde's failure to comply with the indications of various UN agencies. This, coupled with the likelihood that Cedeao will impose sanctions, will seriously affect employment and the economy.
The bet that Ulisses Correia has made is that any funding shortfalls will be covered by the United States through its $400 million initiative for the New Embassies Complex, announced on July 4, with the promise that $100 million " they will go directly to local businesses.” While the removal of Alex Saab has been greeted with mutual admiration and sick declarations from the US and Cape Verde, how long this idyll will last is the subject of intense speculation. The United States has a history of very quickly forgetting long-term commitments once its all-out courtship of a small basal has yielded the desired result. Just ask the people of Afghanistan.
Cape Verde faces an extremely uncertain future. There is no certainty that the promises made at the height of the US courtship of Cape Verde will be kept.
We can only wish the decent and hardworking people of Cape Verde the best of luck, because God knows they are going to need it.