When visiting or residing in Gabon or Sao Tome & Principe, U.S. citizens are subject to the laws of those respective countries. Law enforcement authorities have the right to arrest U.S. citizens suspected of breaking local law, even when the alleged crime would not be illegal in the United States. If a U.S. citizen is arrested, Consular Officers at the Embassy will monitor the prisoner’s treatment and provide services to the prisoner and his or her family, to the extent permitted by law.
Avoid getting arrested overseas by:
- Following the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting or living in.
- Learning about laws there which might be different from the laws in the United States. We provide some information for each country on our Country Specific Information pages. For further information on laws within the foreign country before you go, contact that country’s nearest embassy or consulate within the United States.
If you are arrested overseas (or know a U.S. citizen who has been arrested):
- Ask the prison authorities to notify the U.S. embassy or consulate
- You may also wish to reach out to the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to let us know of the arrest. Contact information for S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found here or by going to our individual Country Specific Information pages.
Consular Assistance to U.S. Prisoners:
When a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, we can provide the following services:
- Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English
- Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen with their written permission
- Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate
- Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care for you
- Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process
- Inform the detainee of local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime that may be available to them
- If they would like, ensuring that prison officials are permitting visits with a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice
- Establish an OCS Trust so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations
- Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
- State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
- Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
- Serve as official interpreters or translators
- Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas