In a statement, lawyers expressed dismay at the refusal of the government of Cape Verde to obey the order of ECOWAS court which mandated the country to release Saab with immediate effect.
According to the statement signed by Osa Director, Chairman, Media and Publicity Committee of the African Bar Association, , the lawyers stressed that the disobedience of court judgments, is a call to anarchy and does not portray Cape Verde in good light.
“As a responsible organization, the African Bar Association has a duty to promote respect for the principles of the Rule of Law, Constitutional democracy and Good Governance not only in West Africa but the whole of the Continent,”; it said.
It will therefore be irresponsible for the Association to fold its hands and do nothing when and wherever in Africa the Rule of Law is threatened or violated.”
It lamented that the case between Venezuelan Diplomat Alex Saab and the Government of Cape Verde is a sour point in the history of the Judicial Pronouncements in West Africa.
“While the African Bar Association is unable to involve herself in the
under currents and politics of the detention of Ambassador Saab, it
is heartwarming to confirm that instead of resulting to jungle justice
and other primitive ways of settling disputes, the parties on their
own volition submitted themselves to the jurisdiction of the ECOWAS Community Court.”
“Having done so and presented their respective points, it becomes a
disservice and outright tragedy for any of the Parties to refuse to act on or obey the outcome.”
“The African Bar Association is sad to learn that Cape Verde Islands as responsible member of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the African Union (AU) had on at least two (2) occasions refused and or neglected to obey the decision of the ECOWAS Court.”
“From factual accounts given to us which our Human Rights Committee which investigated the matter upon a Petition to the Association by the family of Ambassador Saab, Cape Verde refused to obey an earlier interim ruling. In the said ruling which the Court gave before the final judgment, Cape Verde was ordered by the Court not to put Mr. Saab in prison but under House arrest with access to his personal Physician, Family members and legal counsels.
“We were reliably informed that this order of a legitimate Court of
Law was not obeyed. This flagrant violation has now emboldened
the Island of Cape Verde to disobey or outrightly refused to implement the final judgment wherein the Court ordered the release of the detained Envoy and payment of some compensation. This is
almost a month after the decision.
“Very respectfully, we find this distasteful and an affront on the authority of ECOWAS which must be decisively addressed in order not to bring the authority to disrepute.”
“Africa is today the theatre of
insecurity, banditry and all forms of Lawlessness never before
witnessed in this scale. We say that it is attitudes of this nature that
has created this situation and the Cape Verde situation must be
dealt with so as not to escalate the already precarious state.
“It is the respectful view of the African Bar Association that willful
and unlawful disobedience of the Machinery of Justice in the Subregion 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.
Once faith is lost in the Court, this old long standing respectable
organization may be brought to disrepute especially in the eyes of
Foreigners who may believe wrongly that our Justice System is
“The Rule of Law is the mechanism, process, institution, practice or
norm that supports the equality of all Citizens before the Law,
secures a non-arbitrary form of Government and more generally
prevents the arbitrary use of power.
Disobedience of Court Judgments with all due respect, is a call to
anarchy and does not portray Cape Verde in good light. The Rule of Law is the bedrock of Civilized Nations and the legs on which any legitimate Government stands. 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
“Lawyers in the Continent are worried that the path currently being
towed by Cape Verde is not only retrogressive but will bring the
Country to dis-repute and make ECOWAS a toothless organization
thus becoming a laughing stock, no thanks to this unfortunate
conduct of Cape Verde.
“This situation may lead to chaos, indiscriminate arrest of Citizens
especially of Cape Verde without consequences. In fact, the
situation will put African and West African Diplomats at risk. History
may not be kind to your Cape Verde Islands.
The lawyers appealed to the Cape
Verde government to take the interest of ECOWAS and Africa to heart in order to
prize the Rule of Law above all primordial sentiments and obey the ruling and release Saab.