Court rejects application to order sanctions against Cape Verde for non-enforcement of judgment

A panel of three judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice led by Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has rejected…

A panel of three judges of the ECOWAS Court of Justice led by Hon. Justice Edward Amoako Asante, has rejected an application filed by a Venezuelan illegally detained in Cape Verde asking for an order of the Court to compel Heads of State and Government of the Community for impose sanctions on Cape Verde for non-enforcement of an earlier order of the Court for his release.In the judgment no ECW/CCJ/JUD/07/21 delivered on 15th March 2021, the Court had ordered the immediate release of Ales Nain Saab Moran and the payment of 200,000 US dollars in reparation for the violation of his human rights following his “illegal” detention since 12th June 2020 at the request of the US which filed a request for his extradition to the country.

In its ruling of Thursday, 24th June 2021 on the application for sanctions and read by the Judge Rapporteur, Justice Januaria Costa, the court held that “there can be no doubt that the execution of the decisions of the Court of Justice of the Community constitutes one of the obligations of the Member States

“However it follows that only the Member States and the President of the Commission can approach the Court on appeal for failure to fulfill Community obligations by the Member States.”

Among the sanctions sought by the Applicant, who was represented by his counsel Mr. Femi Falana, was a travel ban against top officials of Cape Verde and their families to all ECOWAS Member States namely the President of Republic of Cape Verde, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Regional Integration, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Community and Minister of Defense.

Other sanctions sought were for the suspension of the disbursement for ongoing ECOWAS assisted projects or programs to Cape Verde; exclusion from submitting applications for statutory positions in ECOWAS as well as suspending their voting rights in ECOWAS among others.

In its judgment of 15th March 2021, the Court had also ordered the discontinuance of all extradition proceedings and processes against the Applicant to the USA and declined all other claims, orders and injunctions sought by the Applicant.


The Court had decided that the detention of the Applicant by of Cape Verde was unlawful and a violation of Article 6 of the African Charter on Human and People`s Rights that guaranteed the right to personal liberty and security of the person.

In its analysis, the Court had observed that although the Venezuelan government later claimed Mr Saab Moran was travelling as its special envoy, he did not possess valid requirements qualifying him as a diplomat accredited in Cape Verde or other state or of high political office at the time of his arrest.

Consequently, the Court dismissed the Applicants claim of diplomatic immunity and inviolabilities as provided in Article42 of the 1969 New York Convention on Special Missions.

On the Applicant`s allegation of arbitrary arrest and detention, the Court concluded based on evidence before it, that the Respondent state effected the arrest of Mr. Saab Moran without informing him of the reasons for his arrest or presenting to him an arrest warrant or a red alert issued by Interpol for his extradition in line with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime to which both the US and Cape Verde are signatories.

A statement by the ECOWAS Commission said that Hon. Justice Dupe Atoki. was also on the panel.

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