Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe is due to appear before a court in Iran on 10 December. The British-Iranian woman was arrested in Tehran when visiting family last year, and is currently serving a five-year prison sentence – reportedly on national security charges.
With UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson implying Ms Zaghari-Ratcliffe had been in Iran ‘training journalists’ there was concern that her sentence may even be increased.
The situation highlights huge differences across the world concerning human rights and political sensitivities. Many UK nationals travel abroad with little or no knowledge of the laws governing their destination country. And, in many cases, this is not a problem.
A minor indiscretion whilst on holiday in France or Spain may result in a severe telling off, but it’s unlikely to land you in too much hot water. Further afield though it’s a different story – as we’re witnessing in Iran.
In this particular case, the family and employers of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe insist she was there purely for a holiday, and is being unfairly held. One would expect the UK Government to step in and wave its magic wand to secure her release. After all, that is the role of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office isn’t it? In reality things aren’t that simple.
Rob Dolbear, Managing Director of relocation specialist HCR explains: “There are those who believe the UK Government will save the day and dig them out of any predicaments they happen to find themselves in.
“Everybody understands how incredibly important the FCO is as an international resource, standing by to help its citizens whenever genuine emergencies arise. And the British Consular in any country will do everything it possibly can to assist – but there are limits to its powers abroad. If you’re travelling somewhere where you know the culture is very different to home, it’s vital you familiarise yourself with the laws and values of that nation before you leave.
“Holidays are one thing – but moving abroad is another kettle of fish. Many who do so make detailed plans and preparations – making sure they know what to expect. They are ready for all eventualities. And some employ the services of relocation specialists like HCR because they know we understand what it takes to enjoy a successful move to a foreign land.
“Wherever in the world they happen to be, our agents are ready to step in with help and support, no matter how big or small the challenge might be.”
Visiting or relocating to another country abroad is an exciting challenge. But to really enjoy foreign delights and cultures, it’s best to do your homework, so you know what to expect.