ECOWAS Court orders Republic of Cape Verde to place detained Venezuelan under permanent home detention

The ECOWAS Court of Justice on Wednesday, 2nd December, 2020 ordered the Republic of Cape Verde to place detained Venezuelan, Mr. Alex Nain Saad Moran under permanent home detention and the supervision of its national judicial authorities.

Delivering a ruling in a suit filed by the Applicant, a three judge panel of the court said that this will guarantee him better conditions of accommodation, access to medical treatment and visits compatible with his personal situation, at the Applicant’s own expense.

In the ruling which was delivered by the Judge rapporteur, Hon. Justice Januária Moreira Costa, the Court also ordered that the Applicant should not be extradited until a decision has been made on the merits of the substantive case before the Court.

However, the panel presided over by Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, dismissed other orders sought by the Applicant and ordered that the parties be notified of the ruling.

In suit ECW/CCJ/APP/43/20 field through his counsel Mr. Femi Falana, the Applicant asked for interim measures to prevent the violation of his human rights, mainly the right to liberty and security as well as the right not to be subjected to torture or cruel and inhuman treatment while in detention awaiting extradition to the United States of America at the request of the US government.

The Applicant averred that on June 12, 2020 at 8:09 pm, the plane on which the Applicant was traveling while on a special mission,  made a stopover in the Republic of Cape Verde for refueling.

He further averred about an hour later, at 9:30 pm, he was detained for the purpose of extradition by the authorities of Cape Verde in response to an international arrest warrant that was allegedly circulated by INTERPOL on the basis of a Red Alert against him issued at the request of the United States (the “Red alert”). He said that as at the time of his arrest, neither the copy of the Red Alert nor the arrest warrant against him were presented to him.

He further claimed that on April 9, 2018, the Applicant was appointed as Special Envoy of the Government of Venezuela, which vested on him the responsibility of acquiring humanitarian resources of great need in Venezuela. In this context, and within the scope of his mandate as Special Envoy, Venezuela on April 1, 2020 entrusted the Applicant with the mission of negotiating with organizations in Iran to obtain the necessary resources for Venezuela.

He maintained that since July 16, 2020, he has filed several appeals against the extradition request presented by the USA based on the fact that he cannot be extradited on account of his immunity and inviolability, describing it as purely political.

In filing before the court, he said that the appeals were denied by Cape Verde’s Courts which have ruled to authorize his extradition to the US and that his health has deteriorated while in detention with an imminent risk of irreversible damage before the conclusion of the case.

The Applicant therefore requested that, until the decision on substance is delivered, the Court should order the following interim measures: that the Defendant suspend the extradition procedure against the Applicant, which was initiated at the request of the United States and release him under the supervision and responsibility of the Ambassador of the Bolivian Republic of Venezuela, accredited to the Republic of Cape Verde, He also claimed that he is an oncological patient undergoing treatment and that since his arrest he requested medical visits and periodic examinations to certify his health status but was denied access to adequate medical facilities among others

In defense the Defendant confirmed that the Applicant’s detention on June 12, 2020, at the airport on the island of Sal, occurred in response to a request from the American Government, more specifically by the Florida District Court, due to a series of crimes allegedly committed by the Applicant in American territory.

He stated that the detention was carried out based on the general principles of international judicial cooperation in criminal matters, in strict compliance with the provisions of Arts. 3 and 4 of Act no. 6/VIII/2011, of 29 August and that it is not in violation of Cape Verdean law or any international agreement, treaty or convention to which the country is a party.

The Defendant concluded that the Applicant does not enjoy the immunity claimed as he does not meet the requirements of a special envoy, for the purposes of diplomatic immunity enshrined in the 1969 United Nations Convention on Special Missions. Consequently, it argued that this invalidates the basis for challenging the decisions of the Cape Verdean judicial authorities.

The Defendant concluded by asking the Court to consider that the requirements for admissibility of the application have not been met, in particular because the internal remedies have not yet been exhausted, stating that under no circumstances should the interim measures be ordered.

Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki was also on the panel.