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February 12, 2024

Your Rights as a Foreigner Arrested in Colombia

Your Rights as a Foreigner Arrested in Colombia

Your Rights as a Foreigner Arrested in Colombia

In Colombia, as in many countries, foreigners enjoy fundamental rights that must be respected regardless of their immigration status. The Political Constitution of Colombia, along with international treaties and local laws, establishes a framework for the protection of human rights of all people, including foreigners, even in situations of arrest or detention. Below, the most relevant rights enjoyed by a foreigner arrested in Colombia are detailed.

Right to Defense and Due Process

Within the framework of due process, it is essential that the arrested foreigner can understand and be understood at all stages of the judicial process. This implies not only being informed of the charges against them in a language they understand but also access to a lawyer who speaks their language. This right facilitates effective communication between the detainee and their defender, ensuring that they can actively participate in their defense, understand the legal proceedings they face, and make informed decisions about their case.

While the Colombian state guarantees the right to the assistance of a lawyer, there may be practical limitations regarding the availability of lawyers who speak the language of the detained foreigner, especially in less common languages. In such cases, measures should be taken to provide interpretation or translation services that ensure effective communication between the detainee and their lawyer, as well as during judicial proceedings.

This right to a lawyer who speaks the foreigner’s language is a fundamental component of access to justice and respect for due process, as it ensures that the foreigner can exercise their rights effectively, without language barriers that limit their ability to defend themselves.

Right to Non-Discrimination

Every arrested foreigner has the right to equal treatment, without discrimination of any kind on the basis of nationality, race, gender, language, religion, or any other condition. This principle is enshrined in the Constitution and is a fundamental pillar of the Colombian legal system.

Right to Communicate with Their Consulate

One of the most important rights for arrested foreigners is the right to communicate with their consulate or embassy. The Colombian authorities must inform the detainee of this right immediately. Consular communication can be crucial for access to legal assistance, support during the judicial process, and, in some cases, protection against rights violations.

Right to Personal Integrity

Regardless of their immigration or criminal status, every detained foreigner has the right to be treated with respect for their human dignity. This means protection against torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, and guarantees of adequate detention conditions.

Right to Request Asylum or International Protection

If the arrested foreigner is an asylum seeker or refugee, they have the right to request international protection according to Colombian legislation and international treaties on the matter. This right includes the principle of non-refoulement, which prohibits expulsion or return to a country where their life or freedom would be in danger.

Immigration Procedures

In case the detention is related to the foreigner’s immigration status, they have the right to be informed about the applicable administrative procedures, including the right to challenge deportation or expulsion decisions and to request a judicial review of these measures.


The respect for the rights of foreigners arrested in Colombia, including the right to a lawyer who speaks their language, reflects the country’s commitment to respect for human rights and due legal process. The ability to effectively communicate with their lawyer is essential to ensure that the foreigner can defend themselves adequately and participate in the judicial process on equal terms. In any situation of detention, it is imperative to seek qualified legal assistance and communicate with the corresponding consulate to receive the necessary support.

Remember, this article provides an overview and does not replace personalized legal advice. In case of arrest or detention, contacting a qualified lawyer and the respective consulate should be a priority to ensure effective protection of your rights.

Author: Menendez y Asociados Abogados S.A.S.

Firma de Abogados Especialistas establecida en Colombia. Solucionamos rápida y adecuadamente sus asuntos legales. Somos su equipo jurídico en Colombia.

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