How Do You Get Help Overseas?

Word Count:

What do you do if you have a problem, illness, or get in legal trouble overseas?

crime, victim, local, programs, victims, assistance, compensation, contact, information, consular, crime victim


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If you are ill or injured, contact the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for a list of local physicians and medical facilities. If you request, consular officers will help you contact family or friends. If necessary, a consul can assist in the transfer of funds from family or friends in the United States. Payment of hospital and other medical expenses is your responsibility.

Should you find yourself in legal difficulty, contact a consular officer immediately. Consular officers cannot serve as attorneys, give legal advice, or get you out of jail. If you are arrested, consular officials will visit you, advise you of your rights under local laws, provide a list of local attorneys who speak English and who may have had experience in representing U.S. citizens, and ensure that you are held under humane conditions and are treated fairly under local law.

A consular officer will contact your family or friends if you desire. When necessary, consuls can transfer money from home for you and will try to get relief for you, including food and clothing in countries where this is a problem. If you are detained, remember that under international treaties and customary international law, you have the right to talk to the U.S. consul. If you are denied this right, be politely persistent. Try to have someone get in touch for you.

Resources for U.S. Citizen Crime Victims
When a U.S. citizen becomes the victim of a crime overseas he or she may suffer physical, emotional, or financial injuries. The emotional impact of the crime may be intensified if the victim is in unfamiliar surroundings, far away from sources of comfort and support, and not fluent in the local language or knowledgeable about local laws and customs. Consuls and consular agents can provide assistance to U.S. citizen crime victims

If you become the victim of a crime overseas, contact the nearest U.S. embassy, consulate, or consular agency for assistance. Also contact local police to report the incident and obtain immediate help with safety concerns.

While consular officials cannot investigate a crime, provide legal advice, represent you in court, serve as official interpreters or translators, or pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens, they can assist crime victims in many other ways. Consular personnel overseas are familiar with local government agencies and resources in the countries in which they are located, and they can help you:

* replace a stolen passport
* contact family, friends, or employers
* obtain appropriate medical care
* address emergency needs that arise as a result of the crime
* obtain general information about the local criminal justice process and information about your case
* obtain information about local resources to assist victims, including foreign crime victim compensation programs
* obtain information about crime victim assistance and compensation programs in the U.S.
* obtain a list of local attorneys who speak English


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Victim Assistance: If you are the victim of a crime while overseas, you may benefit from specialized resources for crime victims available in the United States. Throughout the United States, thousands of local crime victim assistance programs offer help to victims of violent crime and most will help residents of their community who have been the victim of a crime in another country.

These include rape crisis counseling programs, shelter and counseling programs for battered women, support groups and bereavement counseling for family members of homicide victims, diagnostic and treatment programs for child abuse victims, assistance for victims of drunken driving crashes, and others. Information about locating crime victim assistance programs is below.

Victim Compensation: All states operate crime victim compensation programs and nearly half of them offer benefits to their residents who are victims of violent crime overseas. (See contact information for state compensation programs below.)

These state compensation programs provide financial assistance to eligible victims for reimbursement of expenses such as medical treatment, counseling, funeral costs, lost income or loss of support, and others. Generally victim compensation programs require the victim to report the crime to law enforcement and they usually request a copy of the police report.

Contact Information for Victim Compensation and Assistance Programs:
Information about each state’s crime victim compensation program and how to apply for compensation is available on the Internet at the web site of the National Association of Crime Victim Compensation Boards.

The toll-free 24 hours a day/7 days a week hotline for sexual assault crisis counseling and referrals in the United States is 1-800-656-HOPE. It is operated by a non-profit organization, RAINN (Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network).

Information about local sexual assault victim assistance programs in the U.S. is also available from each state’s sexual assault coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions are listed on the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office.

The toll-free 24 hours a day /7 days a week National Domestic Violence Hotline that provides crisis counseling and referrals in the U.S. is 1-800-799-SAFE.

Information about local domestic violence victim assistance programs in the U.S. is also available from each state’s domestic violence coalition. Contact information for these state coalitions is listed at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Violence Against Women Office.

The toll-free 24 hours a day/7 days a week crisis counseling and referral line for families and friends of those who have died by violence is 1-888-818-POMC. It is operated by a non-profit organization, POMC, Inc. (The National Organization of Parents of Murdered Children).

Information about national and local resources for victims and family members of victims of drunken driving crashes is available at the web site of Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Contact information for non-emergency victim assistance services in communities throughout the U.S. is available at the web site of the U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime.

Information for crime victims on the impact of crime, safety planning, legal rights and civil legal remedies, and options for assistance and referrals to local programs is also available from the National Crime Victim Center (NCVC). Call toll free (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST) 1-800-FYI-CALL or call TTY for hearing impaired (8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. EST) 1-800-211-7996.


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