Top of the day and week to you! We hit the ground running.
Imagine you are a famous celebrity (male) who just married a drop dead gorgeous wife. Full of excitement, you whisk your newly wedded wife to Europe for your honeymoon; as you look forward to spend the rest of your life with her. Only, there is a twist to this story. While dining and romancing your gorgeous wife, there is a major interruption. Before you know it, you go from being in a state of nirvana to being thrown in jail!
The above is the exact situation that just occurred to Nigeria’s gospel mega star Sammie Okposo. Okposo took his beautiful wife for a honeymoon in Scotland. While in Scotland, he was arrested at a restaurant for alleged racist statements he made during an altercation at the restaurant. Okposo was thrown in jail in the city of Aberdeen, subsequently released on bail and returns in September to face charges.
For our purpose, it is irrelevant whether Okposo is guilty of the crime(s) alleged and charged. The bottom line is, he was arrested, has a case pending in a foreign jurisdiction and has to face charges in that foreign land. It is what it is. What do you take from Okposo’s situation, in case you find yourself in legal trouble on foreign soil?
Here are a few things to note:
1. When you travel to a foreign land, you are subject to the laws of that jurisdiction (country). For fellow Americans, the US constitution and its wonderful protections do not apply. In many countries, there is no right to a speedy trial (which means you can be stuck in jail for a while), jury etc.
2. Take time to understand the basic laws of the land you visit, nothing intense. Most tourist guidebooks and the embassy office of the country you seek to visit will have that information.
3. Highly important is that you check in with your country’s embassy and/or consulate offices in your foreign destination. This is a customary practice for me. When I travel abroad, I check in at the US embassy in the country I travel to. At the US embassy, for example, I usually complete a couple of documents providing information about my home in the USA, my location in the foreign land and emergency contact info. For US Citizens, doing so means when trouble strikes, the US embassy and/consular office can immediately visit you, when you request a visit, provide information so you can retain a local attorney, help you understand the legal process in the foreign land, help contact your family and be the watch dog to make sure due process is afforded you, among other services.
4. Finally, cooperate with officials in your foreign land. Be polite. Be respectful. Laws, cultures and customs are different. For my fellow Americans, it is not the time to assert your freedom of speech etc. When in Rome, do as the Romans.