I want to ask whether a country can try a citizen (or a PR) for a crime not committed under their jurisdiction, provided that such country has no extraterritorial jurisdiction over its own citizens or PRs and in the case whether the act is a crime either in the citizen's country, country it's been committed in or both. I'm assuming that the country's citizen has no explicit law on extraterritorial jurisdiction, otherwise all the premise of this question would just crumble.

I'm not talking about extradition, since I'm not mentioning it and since I'm assuming not occurring in that case, but rather I'm assuming if the citizen's country knows that such person committed a crime elsewhere and extradition doesn't occur, and provided also the condition above (no extraterritorial jurisdiction), is the country allowed to try such a person theoretically? (I know that the practice is very different, maybe international laws would be ignored an bypassed by the principle of sovereignity and internal affairs when it comes to a citizen and blah blah)

I'm asking under general principles of international law, and moreover I'm asking under circumstances that erase completely the mileage of cases that may result for every different couple of countries (so " it depends on the countries involved" is not an answer) AND the theoretical chance of getting condemned in the other country, which are no extraterritorial jurisdiction and no extradition occurring, but just reporting signalation and nothing more, not even the requesting country asking for a trial to the host country against the perpetrator.

  • "Can a country can try a citizen for a crime not committed under their jurisdiction?" Isn't that pretty much the definition of "jurisdiction"? The answer appears to be a trivial "no". The rest of the question is just adding confusion upon confusion.
    – MSalters
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:56
  • Trivially it is supposed to be a blunt "no", but it usually happens otherwise.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 15:29
  • I'm finding this really unclear. Is the citizen a citizen of the prosecuting country, the country where the crime occured, or some third country? Can you please edit the question to clarify (e.g. using countries X, Y and Z). Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 10:26
  • Also, what is a PR? Commented Apr 19, 2020 at 10:26

3 Answers 3


A prosecutor can always assert jurisdiction

The defendant can always challenge that assertion.

A court will decide if it has jurisdiction and, if it does, which countries law applies.

Some laws are extraterritorial explicitly(e.g. terrorism). Some are extraterritorial implicitly (e.g. drug trafficking). Some are not extraterritorial implicitly (e.g. driving offenses). A very small number are explicitly not extraterritorial.

In addition, there are many, many crimes that can be committed in the territory of the country by someone who is not in that territory (e.g. computer hacking).

  • "In addition.....who is not in that territory" but in that case the crime is considered to be committed in the country of the victim entity because if the place of offence and enduring do not coincide, the jurisdiction place if the victim's one, hence this is not the case of my question since the latter it's just like being in that country and commit a crime just there. That's a different scenario. My scenario regards committing an act in A that is not a crime in country A but it is in B and the person is in B but is not a citizen or PR of B.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 11:16
  • the jurisdiction place is* the victim's one.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 21, 2019 at 13:16

I am pretty sure that Australia will prosecute citizens who travel to other countries for child sex tourism: here is one reference, and here. I have seen suggestions that it is sometimes easier to prosecute these cases in Australia than the countries where the offenses occurred.

  • 1
    I believe that in some cases, the destination country doesn't criminalize at all. But this isn't information I'm willing to research.
    – Brian
    Commented Apr 24 at 13:57
  • @Brian Technically child sex tourist is against the law in many of the destination countries, but the police aren't adverse to making extra cash. People in the destination countries have been known to lodge complaints with the Australian Federal Police in preference to their own police. Commented Apr 24 at 18:41

No, there is no International Convention that is binding for all in this matter.

There are Multi-National agreements (European Union as one sample) and individual National laws concerning this area.

How these are implementated is specific to the agreement or national law.

A common scenario (but by all means not valid for all) when:

  • Citizen X, in Country A is charged with a crime commited in Country Z

    • the charge is also a crime in Country A
    • no extradition is requested or possible
  • Country A can, but is not required, to charge and try Citizen X

    • if it is deemed to be in (it's) public interest
      • the law of Country A will be applied

Many National laws of the 18th Century contained such rules

  • since crime was considered a common enemy
  • Ok, but with which laws A will try X, with Z's laws or its own one? Because it could be that X is in a country in which the act committed in Z is liable to death penalty in A (such as offending the King or the president).
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:15
  • if a person happens to be for tourism, in a country, whose president is always mocked over by this person online, and they do that in an other country, and assuming that that country enacts death penalty for such an offense, what can that country do, since I assume that it has no extraterritorial on its citizens, let alone other ones. I may understand that every country has its laws, but they can't be valid upon other people who commit legal things outside that country which are illegal in their own country.
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:23
  • @abdul since it must also be a crime in Country A, the law of Country A apply in the above given scenario. It is very rare that a Judge A will use the laws of Country Z (but has happened). But since you have excluded country specifics, not part of the answer. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:40
  • Ok, but 2nd comment raised a slighlty other scenario. What if the country the act has been committed in is not a crime but in the other country the person is currently in is such, knows the fact because of internet and they DO want to condemn him (assuming they're not a citizen or a PR under extraterritorial jurisdiction)?
    – abdul
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 14:46
  • 2
    @abdul haven't you read my answer? There is no International law for this area. Please learn to one question coherently and stop asking 20 sub questions withe different variations. Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 15:01

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