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Arrested or detained abroad

If you’re an Irish citizen and you’re arrested and put in jail abroad, you can contact us for help and advice.

Our staff can offer non-judgemental advice and practical help, regardless of the alleged offence and no matter whether you’re innocent or found guilty, on remand or already sentenced by a court of law.

What we can do

  • We can arrange for your family or friends to be informed of your detention and help you to keep in contact with them.
  • We can help you to get information about prison arrangements.
  • We can give you a list of local English-speaking lawyers.
  • We can arrange for funds they send you to be transferred to you, as allowed by the prison.
  • We can try to ensure that you’re not discriminated against as a foreign prisoner.
  • We can alert the relevant authorities to any concerns you may have about your safety and treatment, including any health concerns.
  • We can put you in touch with relevant NGOs, such as the Irish Commission for Prisoners Overseas.

What we can’t do

  • We can’t get you out of prison, pay fines or give the arresting authorities guarantees on your behalf.
  • We can’t offer legal advice, formally recommend or pay for a lawyer, initiate court proceedings on your behalf or interfere in the local judicial process.
  • We can’t conduct criminal investigations on your behalf.
  • We can’t support you financially in prison.

Visiting you in jail

If it’s possible, and the country’s prison authorities allow, one of our staff may visit you. If it’s not possible, we can contact you by telephone.

In most cases, visits are only possible after you’ve been formally charged with an offence.

Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons

If the country in which you are detained is a party to the Strasbourg Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Persons, you may be able to apply under the Convention to serve the remainder of your sentence in Ireland.

You can only make an application for transfer once your sentence has been finalised (i.e. once all appeal procedures are over).

Our staff can give you some general information about this but you should visit the Department of Justice and Equality website for specific information.

Dual citizens

While consular assistance may be provided to dual nationals, the right of an Irish dual national to receive consular assistance from our Missions is effectively determined by the attitude of the host country. In circumstances where the Irish citizen is detained either in the country of their other nationality, or is travelling on the passport of another country, we may not be able to provide consular assistance.

Under international law, countries are not obliged to legally recognise dual citizenship/nationality. Irish citizens should be aware that travelling or visiting the country of their other citizenship may have implications for them, and that they may also be subject to laws which apply only to citizens of that country.