The United States is being advised to stop detaining the Venezuelan Special Envoy.
They demanded that he be released immediately and that the US adhere to its duties under international law and dismiss all charges against him.
In April 2018, the Government in Caracas designated Mr. Saab as a Special Envoy to carry out official missions in Iran aimed at facilitating the delivery of humanitarian aid such as food and medicine. This information was stated in a press release from the UN human rights office.
According to the US Treasury, the US claims that the diplomat was responsible for a corruption scheme connected to the Venezuelan government’s subsidized food program, known as CLAP. This program was allegedly used to both embezzle from the citizens of Venezuela and manipulate them through food distribution.
In July of the same year, Mr. Saab was targeted by US sanctions for allegedly participating in transactions or programs run by the Venezuelan Government.
He was taken into custody by local officials in Cabo Verde on 12 June 2020 during his third visit to Iran. He was then extradited to the US in October 2021 after an extradition request was made.
The experts appointed by the Human Rights Council stated that the courts in Cabo Verde have rejected the multiple appeals made by him regarding his extradition, his status as a temporary diplomat, and the ruling in his favor by an ECOWAS Court in the area.
According to the source, the courts disregarded multiple official communications from Venezuela, as well as suggestions from global organizations focused on human rights such as the Human Rights Council’s Special Procedures and the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights.
The experts expressed concern about the reported abnormalities surrounding Mr. Saab’s arrest and detention in Cabo Verde before his extradition to the US.
“Specifically, the information we received suggests that at the time of his arrest at the Amílcar Cabral International Airport, there was no Red Notice from Interpol or presented arrest warrant. Instead, both were issued after the fact,” they observed.
Charges against Saab
After being extradited, the US judicial system dismissed seven charges of money laundering against him, but continued to pursue one charge of conspiring to commit money laundering.
The UN experts expressed their deep regret that Mr. Saab has been in detention for nearly two years since his extradition. They believe that the alleged conduct he is being charged with does not constitute an international crime and therefore should not fall under extraterritorial or universal jurisdiction.
The specialists were notified that after being extradited, Saab was held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami, which is not a prison but a pre-trial administrative facility.
Violation ‘for millions’
The experts stated that the actions taken against Mr. Saab not only violate his human rights, but also the right of millions of Venezuelans to have a decent standard of living. This is due to the sudden halt of his mission to obtain necessary goods.
The Special Rapporteurs and other independent experts at the UN are not employees of the organization. They work independently and do not receive payment for their services.