How to get arrested while traveling (and how to avoid it)
By Aimee Heckel
If you saw the thriller “Brokedown Palace” in the late ’90s, chances are it gave you reason enough to be cautious and stay out of legal trouble while traveling. But other popular flicks, such as more recent “The Hangover Part II,” (available at Best Buy) make a joke out of pushing the limits and breaking laws in foreign countries.
The reality is, more than 2,500 Americans are arrested overseas every year, according to the U.S. Department of State. The leading cause: About a third of arrests are drug-related.
When traveling to another country, you are subject to their laws, so make sure you familiarize yourself with them. An arrest abroad may lead to fines, prison, a long trial (remember, the concept of a “speedy trial” is not a worldwide right) or even expulsion from the country.
Here are some tips to help keep you out of trouble — and some laws that might surprise you.
Before you travel, become familiar with the laws of that country. Read the U.S. Department of State’s breakdown of country-specific information, for starters. Click on the country you are visiting and click on the link for “criminal penalties.” You may be surprised by what you learn.
You may be detained in Afghanistan if you take pictures of military personnel. In addition, although the law allows the “free exercise of religion,” proselytizing may be considered harmful to society — and if you’re convicted, the maximum penalty is death.
In Egypt, in some places it is illegal to take pictures of certain buildings.
In Japan, possession of a knife with a locking-back or a folding blade longer than 5 1/2 centimeters is illegal, and may result in more than 10 days in jail.
More than 40 Americans are currently in prison in Colombia for trying to smuggle drugs out of the country. Police arrest multiple people every day for drug trafficking at airports.
In Singapore, many drug offenses carry mandatory death penalties. And littering can cost up up to $1,000.
Although it is unclear how (or if) this law is enforced, it’s illegal to be in public without wearing underwear in Thailand. Um, on that note, if you need to stock up on inexpensive underwear, get free shipping from 123Underwear.com when you order through ShopAtHome.com. Hey, what can we say? It’s the law.