What the US Embassy in Nairobi can do for a Kenyan-American, other US citizens arrested in Kenya

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By US Embassy in Nairobi

Americans traveling or living in Kenya are subject to the Kenyan laws.  Please bear in mind that the Embassy is limited by jurisdiction in the assistance it can provide to US citizens arrested in Kenya. The U.S. Government has no funds for your legal fees or other related expenses.

Although consular officers cannot serve as attorneys or give legal advice, they can provide a list of local attorneys and help you find legal representation. However, neither the Department of State nor the U.S. Consulate can assume any responsibility for the caliber, competence, or professional integrity of these attorneys.

A consular officer will do whatever he/she can to protect your legitimate interests and ensure that you are not discriminated against under local law. A consular officer cannot release prisoners, provide guarantees of their comportment, or provide funds for bail. If you are arrested, immediately ask that a consular officer at the U.S. Embassy be notified. If you are turned down, keep asking–politely, but persistently. If unsuccessful, try to have someone get in touch with us on your behalf.

Upon learning of your arrest, a U.S. Consular Officer will visit you, provide a list of local attorneys, inform the Department of State of your arrest and, if requested, contact family or friends in the U.S. or elsewhere. Consuls can help you transfer money, food, and clothing from your family and friends. They will also try to get relief if you are held under inhumane or unhealthful conditions or are treated less equitably than others in the same situation.

The Embassy has compiled a list of attorneys practicing in Kenya willing to assist English-speakers with a wide variety of legal concerns.  The list of Attorneys (PDF 671 KB) has English-speaking attorneys on staff.  The firms are separated by location in Nairobi and outside of Nairobi (PDF 114 KB).

Please note:  The American Embassy cannot guarantee the professional ability or integrity of these firms.

Avoid getting arrested overseas by:

  • Following the laws and regulations of the country you are visiting or living in.
  • Learning about laws there which might be different from the laws in the United States. We provide some information for each country on our Country Specific pages.  For further information on laws within the foreign country before you go, contact that country’s nearest embassy or consulate within the United States.

If you are arrested overseas or know a U.S. citizen who is:

  • Ask the prison authorities to notify the U.S. embassy or consulate
  • You may also wish to reach out to the closest U.S. embassy or consulate to let us know of arrest.  Contact information for U.S. Embassies and Consulates overseas can be found here or by going to our individual Country Specific Information pages.

Consular Assistance to U.S. Prisoners:

When a U.S. citizen is arrested overseas, he or she may be initially confused and disoriented.  It can be more difficult because the prisoner is in unfamiliar surroundings, and may not know the local language, customs, or legal system.

 We can help:

  • Provide a list of local attorneys who speak English
  • Contact family, friends, or employers of the detained U.S. citizen with their written permission
  • Visit the detained U.S. citizen regularly and provide reading materials and vitamin supplements, where appropriate
  • Help ensure that prison officials are providing appropriate medical care for you
  • 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 that may be available to them
  • If they would like, ensuring that prison officials are permitting visits with  a member of the clergy of the religion of your choice
  • Establish an OCS Trust so friends and family can transfer funds to imprisoned U.S. citizens, when permissible under prison regulations

We cannot:

  • Get U.S. citizens out of jail overseas
  • State to a court that anyone is guilty or innocent
  • Provide legal advice or represent U.S. citizens in court overseas
  • Serve as official interpreters or translators
  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for U.S. citizens overseas

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