Alex Saab Libre delegation attends African Bar Association meeting – Workers World
By John Philpot and Roger D. Harris, Free Alex Saab Committee
An international Free Alex Saab delegation attended the annual meeting of the African Bar Association in Niamey, Niger, October 3-7. Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab, arrested in Cabo Verde since June 2020 by order of the United States, is fighting extradition to Miami.
His “crime” is to organize humanitarian missions to procure food and medicine for Venezuela – in violation of the illegal US blockade.
The Free Alex Saab delegation was made up of Canadian John Philpot, a lawyer specializing in international law who represented the American Association of Jurists and regularly attended AFBAR conferences; Cape Verdean-American bishop Filipe Teixeira, who visited Cape Verde in June to support Alex Saab; Venezuelan Laila Taj El Dine, diplomat to the United Nations, lawyer, university professor and international analyst; and Venezuelan media specialist Pedro Carvajalino.
The African Bar Association welcomes the delegation of Free Alex Saab
The Free Alex Saab delegation was well received by the conference, which was attended by many honored African leaders, including Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, as well as former presidents of Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Some speakers were already familiar with the flagrant extravagance of the American justice system which had led to Saab being seized from his plane during a refueling stop in Cabo Verde on the road from Caracas to Tehran.
The 50-year-old AFBAR is a professional body bringing together individual lawyers and national legal associations in Africa. The association brings together the five African sub-regional associations spread over the continent. AFBAR seeks to promote policies aimed at improving the socio-economic and political development of the continent.
AFBAR President Hannibal Uwaifo delivered the opening speech on respect for the rule of law in strong opposition to military coups. One of the recurring themes of the conference was the importance of solving African problems in Africa, without Western interference.
For example, AFBAR will not support cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the Nigerian military and Boko Haram unless the investigation includes how Boko Haram is funded.
One participant, a young lawyer, explained that independence requires full national economic and military control. According to him, with a French and especially we military presence in many countries, politicians can take orders from outside powers.
Some African countries are independent, like Algeria, which strictly controls its own borders and its economy without neo-colonial control. However, Cabo Verde, one of the smallest and poorest countries in the world, is clearly struggling to resist American pressure on Alex Saab.
Conference confirms ECOWAS Court decision to release Alex Saab
The regional court of the West African Economic Community (ECOWAS) had ordered Cabo Verde not only to release Saab, but also to pay him $ 200,000 in damages. It was March 15 of this year, but Cabo Verde still has not complied with the court order. Nonetheless, Cabo Verde has signed and ratified the treaty creating the court, attended the hearings, is a full member of ECOWAS and has at least one judge on the court.
As the AFBAR conference reaffirmed, it is the duty of bars to defend the ECOWAS Court. The conference session on the ECOWAS Court made it clear that it was not a court of appeal but an international court of first instance created by treaty. Saab’s delegation achieved full status during the session, during which delegates Felipe Teixeira and Laila El Dine met with AFBAR President Uwaifo in attendance.
Alex Saab Free Press Conference and Sanctions Kill Report
The international delegation of Free Alex Saab held a press conference during which they presented to the local media the arguments in favor of the release of the Venezuelan diplomat.
John Philpot presented and distributed copies of a report on “We Don’t Deserve This – The Impact and Consequences of US Sanctions,” which deals more broadly with unilateral coercive measures imposed on some three dozen countries, including 15 in Africa, which represent a third of humanity.
Philpot, along with Rick Sterling and David Paul, wrote the full report for the Sanctions kill the coalition. A free PDF of the report is available in line To tinyurl.com/f52h67ze.
In a session on contemporary legal issues and the rule of law, Laila El Dine and John Philpot presented the case of Alex Saab, raising questions that go to the bottom of his illegal detention. President Uwaifo reiterated the need to take positive steps to ensure compliance with the ECOWAS Court ruling of March 15.
John Philpot stressed that these critical cases can be won, citing the recent release of Meng Wanzhou. She had been illegally detained by Canada for over a thousand days with the aim of extraditing her for a transaction between a Chinese bank and Iran that allegedly violated US sanctions against Iran. America’s excess of justice can threaten diplomats and businessmen around the world if this trend is not stopped.
The closing session included resolutions, followed by two press conferences, where the issue of Free Alex Saab was discussed and further supported. AFBAR press conferences, chaired by President Uwaifo, presented the challenges of the defense of Alex Saab, in particular respect for the decision of the ECOWAS Court. International delegates El Dine, Philpot and Teixeira spoke at the second press conference.
AFBAR has taken the issue of the ECOWAS Court seriously, although the Vice-President of the Court lamented the lack of enforcement mechanisms. Proposals have been put forward such as the imposition of sanctions against Cape Verdean officials, which would be legally constructed according to the ECOWAS regional community and not illegally, as with unilateral US sanctions.
Other measures, such as the expulsion of Cabo Verde from ECOWAS and special legal procedures, were considered. A committee has been formed to actively deal with this issue, chaired by Chief Prosecutor of Liberia Sayma Syrenius Cephis.