While in Mali, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. In some places driving under the influence could land you immediately in jail. There are also some acts that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States, and you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. 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 Mali, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what’s legal and what’s not where you are going. Persons violating Mali’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession, use, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Mali are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines.
The U.S. Embassy does not always receive timely notification by Malian authorities of the arrest of U.S. citizens. You are encouraged to carry a copy of your passport with you at all times, so that proof of identity and citizenship are readily available in the event of questioning by local authorities. If arrested, you should always politely insist that you be allowed to contact the U.S. Embassy
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