Vacations are supposed to be fun and relaxing; however, if a traveler gets locked up, it can quickly become a very traumatic, terrifying, and stressful experience. Being jailed abroad is not a part of any traveler’s plan and it is not a laughing matter. If you are on vacation and if the worst does happen, you need to stay calm and contact the nearest embassy or consulate. But before it comes down to that, it is best to learn about the most common reasons why vacationers get arrested abroad to avoid finding yourself in such dreadful situations.
Remember That Drug Offenses Carry Harsh Punishment
Never attempt to transport illegal substances across borders. Even if the drugs are for personal use, you must never bring them with you. In addition, avoid doing a drug run for dealers. This is fairly common wherein dealers pay for the drug runner’s ticket, hotel room, and tell him/her that it is going to be very easy. You must never be tempted to do such jobs because it means you are smuggling drugs out of a country and into another.
The punishment for drug possession and trafficking in certain countries around the world is very severe. Unfortunately, a lot of travelers don’t take it seriously. Based on the studies made by the U.S Department of State Bureau of Consular Affairs, around 2,500 Americans were arrested in 95 different countries. Of these, around 880 Americans were locked up abroad because they thought they’d never get arrested for possession of illegal substances.
The offenders of such crimes are usually held without bail and are placed in solitary confinement. The sentences can also be very severe from a minimum of 10-year imprisonment to life imprisonment. In some countries, such as Indonesia, China, and Thailand, the sentence involves death penalty for drug offense.
Know And Obey Foreign Laws
Ignorance of the law may be a justifying factor; however, it does not excuse anyone who breaks it. For this reason, it is important that before you travel abroad, you must learn about the local laws and customs since you have to follow them. For instance, some of the laws abroad may include:
- In India and Nepal, it is illegal to kill a cow. For instance, hitting a cow with your car might land you a year in prison.
- You must never insult Royalty, especially the King in Thailand. In some countries, Royalty is given the utmost respect.
- Wearing a mask on your face in Denmark can also result to imprisonment
- In Canada, you can only spend 25 pennies at a time.
- In the Philippines, a car can be driven on days determined by the last digits found on the license plate.
Because there are different laws in every country, it is best to be aware of them before traveling. In doing so, you will avoid making mistakes that can land you in jail.
What To Do If The Worst Should Happen
Being sent to jail abroad is not a fun experience. If you are taken into prison, you must stay calm. Arguing with the law enforcers, putting up resistance, yelling, and refusing to eat and drink will only make things even worst for you. Additionally, there are even countries wherein inappropriate behavior in prison can worsen your situation.
What you can do is to calmly ask if you can speak with the nearest embassy or consulate. Unfortunately, the United States consular office cannot demand that you be released from jail, pay for your legal fees, or represent you at your court trial. What they can do is to provide you with a list of lawyers, notify your family, and monitor your welfare and health.
- Tim Pearce, Los Gatos.”Prison cell with bed inside Alcatraz main building san francisco california”. July 16, 2005. Online Image. Flickr. Jan 21, 2013
- License: Creative Commons image source
Kris Lim, is a blogger for travel websites. She offers relevant tips and advice for travelers who are thinking of going abroad. She also regularly submits post on bail bonds and bail bonds companies.