Friday, June 7, 2024

To U.S. Cits Arrested Abroad: Help Us Help You, and Read the Country Information Pages

You may have read about several American tourists who were recently busted in the Turks and Caicos islands for carelessly leaving a few cartridges in their carry-ons. One of them was just released after paying a large fine (rather than jail), and naturally he blames the State Department for his troubles: American arrested in Turks and Caicos says it's unclear if State Dept. was on 'US side' or 'Turks side' 

Here's something that I find perfectly clear. The State Department's first responsibility is to warn and advise travelers, and it does so. But that requires the travelers to read, which is where even the best of intentions can go wrong.
"We went on a vacation. Our biggest concern was making sure the kids had their swimsuits, their puddle jumper, sunscreen," Hagerich said. "It wasn't looking for travel alerts. I didn't believe we were going to an area in place that we would feel unsafe."

That's an expensive lesson learned. In retrospect maybe he should have looked for those travel alerts. There are plenty of them out there, especially the warning here, and most especially the country travel page here, where you will find this warning in large red text:

We urge all travelers going to the Turks and Caicos Islands to carefully check their luggage for stray ammunition or forgotten weapons before departing from the United States. Read the "Local Laws" section and our alert titled "Check Your bags!" below for more information.

If our returning tourist feels underloved by the USG, well, then he ought to have taken the State Department's advice and read up on local laws at his destination. He would have discovered that the Second Amendment does not travel with you to foreign jurisdictions, and maybe even would have checked his bag for loose rounds. That would have been a precaution more important than double checking on the sunscreen.


James said...

American cits. abroad are rather blithe!

TSB said...

Blithe spirits, indeed. So happy about vacation days they don't check that carry-on for contraband. Happens all the time.

And about half the time their congressional representatives get into the act and demand of State that it send Seal Team Six to extract their constituents from foreign jails. They imagine themselves in a Tom Clancy movie.

No effort is too great for our traveling fellow gringos except, of course, for reading the country information page at before they go to the airport.

James said...

Perhaps "Midnight Express"!

James said...

I may double post but Midnight Express comes to mind.

TSB said...

That is 100 percent perfect! We should make it mandatory that everyone applying for a U.S. passport watch that movie and complete a short quiz on 'your rights if arrested overseas.'

James said...

Or I could be a "journalist" and do a 60 minutes interview ( ambush) of North Korean leadership! Yes we're Americans, somewhat special, but we're not gods and had better realize that.

James said...

Every day I think: why not go to Afghanistan? I hear it's fantastic especially the people!

TSB said...

Indeed! We currently have two Americans 'wrongfully detained' there, one of whom had lived and worked there for 12 years before being evacuated in the big rush for the exits. Then, after the dust settled, he returned.

The other one considers himself a tourist and amateur anthropologist with a day job as a mechanic for Delta Airlines.

The government can't just say to the families and their Congressmen "we told them so," but it told them so.