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Message From the DirectorAbout This GuideResources
Resource Guide for Serving U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad
Publication Date:  April 2008
Victim Services: An International Outlook
Responding to Victimization Abroad
Coordinating Victim Services
If the Victim Remains Abroad
If the Victim Returns to the United States
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Checklists for Assisting U.S. Citizens Victimized Abroad

If the Victim Returns to the United States

Investigation and Prosecution

All victims of crime have concerns about their role in the investigation of the crime and in the legal proceedings. For U.S. citizens who are victimized abroad, these concerns are complicated by language, cultural norms, unfamiliarity with procedures, and other issues.

U.S. victim assistance providers might not have sufficient funding to subsidize a victim's return to the country where the crime occurred. Therefore, victims might have to decide if they have the means to pursue and participate in prosecution.

Victim service providers can prepare the victim to participate in the country's legal system by obtaining and sharing information with the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, which can offer details about the local criminal justice process and facilitate obtaining information about the victim's case. In addition, in many cases of victimization abroad, when the local U.S. embassy expresses an interest in the case, information and access might be more easily obtained.

Nevertheless, consular officials cannot—

  • Investigate crimes.

  • Provide legal advice.

  • Represent U.S. citizens in court.

  • Serve as official interpreters or translators.

  • Pay legal, medical, or other fees for the victim.


Southern Methodist University Underwood Law Library
(International law and organizations)