THE recent arrest of a 14 year old boy in Bali on drugs charges has spurred a Brisbane criminal defence lawyer to call for more better awareness of how protective laws are for Australians overseas.
More should be done to ensure Australians holidaying overseas understand they are not protected by Australian law if they are arrested for misbehaviour, according to lawyer Bill Potts.
The recent arrest has renewed focus on something that received little public discussion, he said, calling for a new high school life skills programmes.
Potts, director of Potts Lawyers, said the NSW teenager’s strife was a wakeup call to all travellers that when they fly overseas, they leave behind their rights under Australian law.
“Not just holidaymakers, Australians doing business in certain countries where bribes are part of the deal-making machinery may not realise that by doing this, they are breaking laws back in Australia and could be held liable for the bribes.
“It is important for travellers to realise that, legally, they are effectively on their own if they are arrested for crimes abroad. All travellers, and especially young people, need to appreciate that the Australian legal system does not apply to them once they leave home.
“While an Australian facing trial in another country is entitled to access to an Australian embassy or consulate’s services, they cannot expect to be whisked home to face the courts under the Australian legal system.
“They are on their own, facing the justice system of the country in which they were arrested,” he said.
“Australians abroad have no special privileges. They can’t call their Australian lawyer to fly out and defend them, unless the lawyer is formally recognised and admitted to practice in that foreign jurisdiction.
“There needs to be a lot more done to educate all travellers that the legal rights they enjoy under Australian law don’t apply overseas. It’s a simple message but oddly, quite a few travellers just don’t seem to get it,” Potts said.