What to do if arrested abroad?

Travelling abroad will normally be one of the best experiences of your life.  However if you are unfortunate enough to find yourself detained or imprisoned whilst in another country you should immediately:

1 Contact the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate.

One of the fundamental functions of the Irish Embassies and Consulates is to ensure that the rights of Irish citizens, who are arrested abroad, are fully respected.

Once the Embassy has been informed of the arrest or imprisonment of an Irish citizen they will respond immediately and provide all possible consular assistance.

Upon your arrest immediately ask the local authorities or police who have detained you to contact the nearest Irish Embassy or Consulate.  Ask them to arrange for a visit from a member of staff of the Embassy or Consulate.

You will in all likelihood lose your access to your mobile phone and internet. Try and get a message to any of your friends and ensure they alert your family .

According to the Department of foreign Affairs and Trade www.dfa.ie the Embassy can:

  • Visit you or arrange for you to be visited by an Honorary Consul or by a representative of an Embassy or Consulate of one of our EU partners
  • If necessary, provide you with a list of local English-speaking lawyers
  • Advise you about the prison system and about your entitlement to visits, mail and other facilities
  • Bring details of any medical condition you may have to the attention of prison officials
  • Pursue with the prison authorities on your behalf complaints about ill-treatment or discrimination
  • Pass messages to and from your family

However, the Embassy does not:

  • Secure better treatment for Irish citizens than local or other nationals receive
  • Give or pay for legal advice
  • Interfere with or influence the local judicial system
  • Provide any financial assistance while you are in prison

2. Get a lawyer

Unfortunately if you commit a crime abroad you are subject to the legal system of that particular country regardless of your nationality. Therefore it would be advisable to seek immediate legal assistance from a reputable and well experienced  local lawyer who may also be in a position to liaise with your family.

3. Contact the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas (ICPO).

It is a voluntary agency that provides assistance to Irish prisoners overseas and to their families in Ireland. The ICPO can be contacted by members of your family or friends at:

  1. Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas
    Columba Centre
    St Patrick’s College
    County KildareTel:  +353 1 505 3000
    Fax:  +353 1 601 6401
    Email: icpo@iol.ie

Drug Smuggling:-

In many foreign countries if you are caught smuggling drugs the authorities take the view that you are guilty unless proven innocent. This is a very difficult situation to be in and the normal rules of procedure and due process may not apply. Even if you are ultimately successful in defending the charges you will often have to spend many years in prison awaiting trial.

To avoid unwittingly becoming a drug smuggler you should:-

  1. Never leave your luggage unattended.
  2. Get your luggage sealed at the airport particularly in certain parts of the world for example Central and South America and Asia.
  3. Never take a parcel from or for another person without checking what is inside.
  4. When in doubt –don’t.






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