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Ben talks about trouble o/s.
Ben talks about trouble o/s.

In trouble overseas

Thursday, June 14, 2001
A number of Australian citizens are arrested overseas every year — here's what we suggest...

A number of Australian citizens are arrested overseas every year. Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, which is the generally accepted standard for all countries, a person who has been arrested outside their own country must have access to their consular representative. If you find yourself in this situation, you should immediately ask to be put in touch with your consul.

Remember, the consul and consular staff are there to assist you and are interested in your welfare. They are not judgmental. It is the job of the local courts to decide on your innocence or guilt. Even if you are found guilty, your consul will continue to help you, and you should not feel embarrassed in your dealings with the consul. The department will also help members of your family to the extent that is possible.

If you are arrested, the consul can:
  • VISIT you as soon as possible after notification of your arrest and after permission to visit you is granted by the local authorities.
  • GIVE you some general information about the legal system of the country you are being held in. Information may include details on legal aid (if available) and prosecution, remand, bail and appeal procedures, so that you will understand what is happening and be aware of your rights.
  • GIVE you a list of lawyers. The consul cannot make recommendations as to which lawyer you should choose.
  • ARRANGE for your next of kin to be notified of your arrest, if you wish.
  • ASSIST you to make arrangements to receive funds from your family and maintain contact with them regarding your welfare.
  • APPROACH local authorities to request that your basic needs are met and that humanitarian standards of treatment are respected.
  • OBJECT if you are treated less favourably than local citizens arrested for similar offences, or if you are subjected to cruel or degrading treatment.
  • TAKE UP any justified and serious complaint about ill-treatment or discrimination with the police or prison authorities and advise your lawyer on this aspect.
  • TELL you about the local prison system — visiting arrangements, mail and censorship, privileges and social and welfare services.
  • ARRANGE a loan from the Australian government if you are destitute and if adequate medical attention, food and other essentials are needed.
  • ENSURE any medical or dental problem you have is brought to the attention of the prison doctor/dentist.
  • ATTEND your trial in court as an observer if approved by the local authorities.

For information in Australia about being in trouble with the law in other countries, you need to contact the Consular Operations Section of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in Canberra on (02) 6261 3305. For urgent matters, you can call the Department's 24-hour emergency consular service on the same number, or you can fax the Consular Operations Section on (02) 6261 3491. You can also write to: Consular Operations, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, RG Casey Building, BARTON, ACT 0221.

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