Criminal Penalties in Eritrea

While you are in Eritrea, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems are vastly different than our own. You may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport or identification with you. It is illegal to take pictures of government buildings. Driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail, as could a traffic accident, whether or not you are at fault. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States; for example you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods in Eritrea, even if you are not prosecuted in Eritrea.

Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in Eritrea, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going.

Persons violating Eritrea’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Eritrea are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.

Arrest notifications in Eritrea: Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in Eritrea, you have the option to request that the police, prison officials, or other authorities alert the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate of your arrest, and to have communications from you forwarded to the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. However, in Eritrea, contrary to the Vienna Convention, such requests are not generally granted.

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