Criminal Penalties in Sudan

While you are traveling in Sudan you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. In some places you may be taken in for questioning if you don’t have your passport with you. The possession or consumption of alcohol is prohibited by law in Sudan. Sudan has strict laws concerning matters of morality; for example, men and women cannot cohabitate (including staying in a hotel together) unless they are married to each other.

All travelers, including journalists, must obtain a photography permit before taking any photographs. Even with a photography permit, photographing military facilities, bridges, drainage stations, broadcast stations, public utilities, slum areas, and beggars is prohibited.

If you break local laws in Sudan, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. Authorities have been known to hold a foreigner’s passports during investigations, which can take weeks or months to conclude. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not while you’re in Sudan. Persons violating Sudan’s laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested, or imprisoned. Penalties for possessing, using, or trafficking in illegal drugs in Sudan are severe, and convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences and heavy fines. Attempting to convert Muslims to another religion is illegal in Sudan, and it is a crime punishable by imprisonment and even death.

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.

Based on the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, bilateral agreements with certain countries, and customary international law, if you are arrested in 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. However, it is not unusual that the U.S. Embassy is not notified by the Government of Sudan of the arrest of a U.S. citizen. Even if notified, the U.S. Embassy is often not allowed access to arrested/detained U.S. citizens.

Dual-nationals must be aware that the Sudanese government may not recognize your U.S. citizenship, and if detained/arrested, you may be considered a Sudanese citizen only.

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2019 Edition