Receiving a long distance phone call informing you that your loved one is locked up overseas is a nightmare scenario. Unfortunately, it does happen. Each year, around 1000 Australian nationals are arrested while abroad. Below is a guide to what you should do if you discovered a loved one is locked up abroad.
Contact the Local Australian Embassy
The first thing you need to do is to contact the Australian Embassy in the country they are being held. You should provide the embassy staff with as much information as possible. If you have a copy of your loved one's passport, you should fax or email this over to the embassy. The embassy will be able to provide assistance to your loved one and ensure that they are treated fairly and have their rights respected while they are under arrest.
Contact a Criminal Lawyer
If your loved one is accused of a crime, it is important that you contact a criminal lawyer who will be able to act on their behalf. Some countries do not provide lawyers to those who cannot afford them, and while the embassy staff can offer ongoing support, they cannot provide legal assistance. A criminal defence attorney will be able to apply for bail and may even be able to request that your loved one is deported back to Australia rather than facing serious criminal charges.
Try to Keep Your Loved One Calm
If you get a chance to speak with your loved one, it is important that you remain calm. Although you may be anxious, you do not want your loved one to know this. You should advise your loved one not to sign any documents or to make any statements without the advice of a criminal lawyer. Let your loved one know that you are doing all you can to help them and reassure them that everything will be OK.
Contact Local Support Groups
You should also reach out to local ex-pat groups or churches, which may be able to offer support to your loved one. If they are incarcerated for any length of time, a church group or member of the local ex-pat community could pay them a visit. Hearing a familiar accent or seeing a friendly face can make a big difference to someone who is locked up abroad.
If you would like further advice on the steps you should take, contact a criminal lawyer today.