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Official UK advice given to England fans in case they get arrested in Qatar

Official UK advice given to England fans in case they get arrested in Qatar

This is the official advice that the British Embassy provides to those travelling to Qatar

The World Cup begins tomorrow in Qatar, and Qatari officials have already been vocal about the country’s customs and traditions ahead of kick-off.

The country's values are very different to those of many other nations, and plenty of fans travelling to attend the World Cup are unsure of what they are allowed to do, especially given that some of the rules appear to have been changed at the last minute.

The sale of alcohol at World Cup stadiums has suddenly been banned despite FIFA and Qatar previously reaching an agreement on the matter.

Even holding hands with a friend or loved one, whilst socially acceptable in the UK, is illegal in Qatar. Drinking alcohol or being drunk in public, swearing in public, and even giving somebody a cheque that bounces are all criminal offences in the country.

The World Cup begins tomorrow in Qatar.

LGBTQ+ fans, who have previously been told they will be 'welcome' and 'feel safe' during the World Cup, have plenty of reasons to be wary of that reassurance.

So if a visitor from the UK does find themselves on the wrong side of the law, it’s important that they have advice from officials on their home turf.

Firstly, it’s important to know that it is your right to ask the authorities in Qatar to contact the British Embassy if you are arrested and detained, but the website realises that they ‘may be informed much more quickly by friends or relatives’.

“We will do all we properly can to make contact with you within 24 hours of being told that you have been detained,” the site explains.

Secondly, the embassy will start making attempts to get in contact with you within 24 hours of being notified of your detention, by asking local authorities for permission to speak with you either at the police station or prison. But these consular visits are subject to the authorities’ permission.

Official advice has been issued to England fans in case of an arrest.
Arthit Buarapa / Alamy Stock Photo

For confidentiality reasons, the British Embassy is not allowed to tell or confirm to anyone - family, friends or otherwise - that you have been arrested in the country without your consent. So, if you want them to know, make sure the embassy has your express permission.

Consular staff are able to provide a list of English-speaking lawyers in the area, contact family and friends on your behalf to give updates on your wellbeing (if permission has been granted by yourself), check on your health and welfare, and ensure medical attention is being given where necessary.

They can also raise any complaints with authorities, help loved ones send money to you through the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office in London if they wish to, and help you and your family get in touch with organisations who may be able to help.

The embassy can’t, however, get you out of prison or prevent the authorities in the area from deporting you after your prison sentence, or get involved with criminal or civil court proceedings.

The main prison in Qatar is in Doha.
Stefano Politi Markovina / Alamy Stock Photo

They also can’t give you legal advice, represent you in court or investigate crimes themselves, or advocate for better treatment in prison because of your nationality.

The embassy staff are also unable to stand as a guarantor for bail or issue a letter to secure bail, as well as pay any legal bills or provide any money to you themselves.

Those who have dual nationality in Qatar and the UK are also not able to be assisted by the British Embassy under international law, but Consular staff are able to provide any informal assistance that local authorities will allow.

If you have been convicted of a serious offence in Qatar, like sexual assault or drug trafficking, the embassy do have a responsibility to inform police in the UK.

Those visiting for the World Cup are expected to adhere to local laws and customs.
pradeep subramanian / Alamy Stock Photo

“It is, therefore, possible that information about this offence may appear if a Disclosure and Barring Services check were carried out by a prospective employer,” the site states.

Upon arrest, all personal items, including money, jewellery and other valuables, will be removed and held with Qatari police until you’re released from jail.

Prisoners are provided with three meals a day and dietary requirements can usually be met. Those in detention are able to buy food and supplies from the prison shop, as well as food and other ‘comfort items’ for delivery from time to time.

Prisoners should avoid criticising the judicial system and never claim to be innocent, even if they believe they have not committed any crime, as officials will gather that they have found a fault with the system that convicted them.

Your safest bet is to familiarise yourself with the local laws and customs in Qatar before you arrive. states: "Be aware of your actions to ensure that they don’t offend. There may be serious penalties for doing something that might not be illegal in the UK, such as the importation of certain goods.

"This includes pork products, alcohol, e-cigarettes/vapes or anything that can be perceived as pornography."

To speak to a Consular officer outside of office hours in an emergency, call +974 4496 2000 and choose the relevant option. This number is available 24/7.

Featured Image Credit: SOPA Images Limited/Abaca Press/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: World News, World Cup, UK News