Letter: As a member of the UN panel of experts on Libya, Dr Moncef Kartas enjoys diplomatic immunity. His detention is a serious violation of Tunisia’s international obligationsWe, the undersigned, call for the immediate release of Dr Moncef Kartas, who has been unlawfully detained by the Tunisian authorities since 26 March 2019. As a member of the panel of experts of the United Nations security council committee established pursuant to resolution 1973 (2011) concerning Libya, Dr Kartas enjoys immunity under the UN convention on the privileges and immunities (1946). This includes immunity from arrest or detention. The UN secretary-general has confirmed in multiple notes verbales to the Tunisian authorities that at the time of his detention, Dr Kartas was performing his official mission. The detention of Dr Kartas by the Tunisian authorities is, therefore, a serious violation of Tunisia’s international obligations. Further, his detention is a direct impediment to the work of the committee, having occurred at the same time that the panel of experts is preparing its interim report.
Dr Kartas, a dual national of both Germany and Tunisia, is being investigated for the premeditated betrayal of secrets concerning Tunisian national security to foreign states or their associates. A conviction for such crimes could lead to the death penalty. Only the UN secretary general has the right to waive the immunity for experts such as Dr Kartas. Tunisia, a signatory to the convention since 1957, has not presented any request for or evidence justifying a waiver of his immunity. No evidence has been presented for the alleged cooperation of Dr Kartas with foreign states or their associates in the betrayal of secrets pertaining to Tunisian national security. The detention of Dr Kartas on spurious grounds, and in violation of his immunity, raises serious questions over the state of the rule of law in Tunisia.