Arrested abroad

If you are arrested, you should inform Iran’s embassy or consulate as soon as possible. Consular officers will assist you in this difficult situation. They will advise you, provide you with information, and help you contact support organizations.

What happens if you are arrested?
If you are arrested, you will be entirely subject to the criminal justice and prison systems of the Netherlands, which may be very different from those of Iran. You must realize that being a foreigner will not protect you from the legal system in this country.

What you can do
If you are arrested, insist that the local authorities inform Iran’s embassy or consulate of your arrest. Friends and relatives can contact the Social Consular Affairs Division of the embassy in The Hague.

What the embassy or consulate will do
The embassy will act as a go-between. It will inform your family of your arrest, and pass on messages. The embassy can also remind the local authorities of their obligation to treat prisoners humanely. Any complaint about your treatment in prison has to make it clear that you are being treated worse than other inmates. A member of the embassy or consulate staff will also try to visit you as soon as possible after your arrest. You should inform the local authorities that you wish to receive a visit from the embassy or consulate. If this is not immediately possible, the embassy or consulate will write to you. The embassy or consulate will inform you about aspects of the local legal system such as legal aid and procedures concerning prosecution, pretrial detention, bail and appeal. This will help you understand what is happening and what your rights are.

You can discuss any complaints about your treatment in prison with the embassy or consulate, which will then consider what action, if any, it can take – or what action you and your defense counsel can take. In general, you should first follow the prison’s own complaints procedure.
If you have medical problems, you should first inform the prison doctor. If you are dissatisfied with your defense counsel, the embassy or consulate will help you find a new one. The embassy or consulate cannot arrange for you to be released on bail or help you obtain preferential treatment. Nor can it intervene in the course of justice or investigate offences in another country. But it can help you obtain legal assistance.

What to do while you are imprisoned
Being imprisoned is difficult both physically and mentally, especially in a foreign country. And it can be even more difficult if you don’t speak the local language. You can only improve the situation by trying to learn the language. Otherwise, if you are unable to resolve a problem by speaking to prison staff, you should raise it with the embassy or consulate. When you enter the prison, you must be informed of any rights or duties that apply within the prison. These will be mentioned in the prison regulations, where you will also find information about visiting regulations, post and censorship, opportunities for work, and social and welfare services.

Informing your family
To get the latest news about you, your family can contact the Social Consular Affairs Division of the embassy in The Hague. This division can also give general information about the legal system in the Netherlands and prison conditions here. The division will also have: the full address of the prison; information about your defense counsel; information about the authorities responsible for the judicial proceedings.

If anything needs to be done during your arrest or imprisonment, it is good to know that the embassy or consulate will address your problem and that they understand how difficult it is to be imprisoned. The embassy or consulate is here to help you if possible. Any information that you, your family, or your friends provide to the embassy or the consulate, will remain confidential.