Arrest and Detention
If you are arrested or detained in another country, you should clearly inform the arresting authorities that you want them to notify the nearest Canadian government office abroad of your arrest immediately.
Under the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, the arresting authorities are obliged to advise you of your right of access to consular representation and to arrange for this access. They are not required to inform a Canadian government office of your detention or arrest unless you specifically ask them to do so.
Consular officials will not arrange your release from prison. You are subject to the criminal justice system of the country where you are arrested and imprisoned.
Canadian consular officials can provide assistance and support to Canadians in jail abroad by:
- Requesting immediate and regular access to you.
- Notifying your family or friends of the situation at your request.
- Helping you communicate with a representative, family or friends if direct communication is not feasible or the need is urgent.
- Advocating for your fair and equal treatment under local laws.
- Obtaining information about the status of your case and encouraging authorities to process the case without undue delay.
- Providing you, your representative or your family with general information on the local legal and prison system.
- Providing an up-to-date and accurate list of local lawyers and translation service providers.
- Advocating for your general well-being, including basic nutrition, medical and dental care.
- Arranging for the purchase, at your expense, and if permitted, of necessary food supplements, essential clothing and other basic items not available through the prison system.
- Delivering letters and permitted reading material if normal postal services are unavailable.
- Contacting your relatives or friends on your behalf to request funds.
- Providing you with financial assistance (fees apply).
Consular officials cannot:
- Get you out of jail.
- Post bail, pay lawyers’ fees, or pay fines.
- Provide legal advice or interpret local laws.
- Recommend lawyers or guarantee their reliability or competence in the specific matter at hand.
- Become involved in matters of substance between you and your lawyer.
- Forward or deliver parcels entering or leaving the country, or clear them through customs.
- Circumvent prison rules on what can and cannot be brought into or taken out of the detention facility.
- Make travel or accommodation arrangements for your family or friends.
- Forward medical supplies prescribed or recommended by a doctor and take steps to clear them through detention facilities.
The Government of Canada cannot intervene in ongoing legal proceedings in other countries or regions unless it is requested to do so by local authorities. These requests are rare. The procedures required in legal proceedings or police investigations may be different from the procedures in force in the Canadian legal system. If you are involved in these proceedings, you may face long delays in the effort to resolve your case.
While having dual citizenship is legal in Canada, it may not be legal in the country of your second nationality, which could limit the ability of the Government of Canada to help you if you are arrested in that country. You should still request access to Canadian consular officials, who aim to provide protection for all Canadian passport holders.
Contact the appropriate foreign government office in Canada to address these issues before you go abroad.
Contact us if you need help.
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