While you are traveling in South Sudan, you are subject to its laws, even if you are a U.S. citizen. You may be questioned or detained by police if you don’t have your passport with you.
South Sudan’s security services commit arbitrary arrests and often detain foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens. The country’s legal system is rudimentary and sometimes ineffective. U.S. citizens may have little recourse to justice should they be detained and legal proceedings can be lengthy and seemingly subjective. Contractual and other business disputes with local partners may not be resolved in a manner that is consistent with international practices and judicial fairness. Security forces often operate outside civilian control, and do not always follow laws governing due process and treatment of detainees.
If you break local laws in South Sudan, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what is legal and what is not while you’re in South Sudan. Penalties for breaking the law may be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating South Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned.
There are also some things 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 persons under the age of 18 or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States.
Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and international law, if you are arrested in South Sudan, 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. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas. That said, security officials rarely contact the U.S. embassy in Juba when U.S. citizens are detained.
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