The Department of State is committed to ensuring fair and humane treatment for U.S. citizens imprisoned overseas. Consular officers stand ready to assist incarcerated citizens and their families within the limits of their authority in accordance with international, domestic and foreign law.
The most important thing is to avoid getting arrested overseas in the first place. Always follow the laws and regulations of Honduras, which may be significantly different from those of the U.S. Review the Country Specific Information page for Honduras, and if there are still questions, contact the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa.
If you are aware that a U.S. citizen is under arrest in Honduras, please ask the authorities to notify the U.S. Embassy immediately. The U.S. Embassy can work to help protect the person and ensure fair treatment and they will also visit the prisoner; provide information about the local legal process, as well as a list of local attorneys; and notify family and friends.
It is important for all U.S. citizens arrested in Honduras to be aware that Honduran legal procedures and traditions differ greatly from those to which most Americans are accustomed.
Judicial procedures are not always clear or easily understood by foreigners, and significant delays during the investigation and trial dates are common. U.S. citizens, as well as Hondurans, are often held in jail for months, and sometime years, while awaiting trial.
The Role of the U.S. Embassy
The U.S. Embassy will make every effort to ensure that all American citizens are treated equitably according to the laws of Honduras and international humanitarian standards. See below for more details on what consular officers can and cannot do.
The Embassy must emphasize that American citizens–whether tourists, business people or residents of Honduras–are guests in a sovereign country and are subject to the laws of Honduras. American citizens should also be aware that due process and other constitutional guarantees that they are accustomed to in the United States, for the most part, do not exist here.
Under the Vienna Convention and the Bilateral Treaty of Friendship, Commerce and Consular Rights of 1928, the Honduran government has the obligation to notify the American Embassy of an American citizen’s arrest. Following notification, an American Consular officer will visit the arrested citizen as soon as possible. A list of local attorneys will be provided and will gladly notify the next-of-kin of the arrest if the citizen desires. A local attorney will be able to provide specific information about legal options and possible strategies to address a particular situation.
Consular officers may:
- Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English. To find an attorney in Honduras, please click here.
- Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen, with the detainee’s written permission.
- Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials.
- Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care.
- Provide a general overview of the local criminal justice process.
- Inform the detainee of local and U.S.-based resources to assist victims of crime.
- Ask that prison officials permit visits to the detainee by others, such as friends or family.
- Facilitate money transfers to the detainee from friends or family.
Consular officers may not:
- Circumvent local laws.
- Bail out or otherwise release U.S. citizens from overseas jails.
- Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
- Testify in local courts regarding the detainee’s innocence or guilt.
- Serve as an official interpreter or translator.
- Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas.