New resource helps innocent drug mules fight cases overseas

PEOPLE scammed or manipulated into becoming unwitting drug mules and facing death penalties as a result are being offered a lifeline.

A new online portal provides documents and advice to people who may have been unwittingly caught up in a criminal network and are facing the death penalty or lengthy jail terms.

It was created by a group of lawyers, technology experts and media advisors, led by the Asia Pacific Lawyers Network.

The portal's release follows a series of cases where people have been lured over the internet to travel overseas, particularly to South-East Asian nations, and unknowingly carrying drugs on the return trip.

New Zealand defence lawyer Craig Tuck said it was crucial those arrested for serious crimes in foreign countries got immediate help to maximise the chances in their legal cases.

The portal provides referrals to defence lawyers in the country of arrest who speak English, a checklist of advice to find diplomatic support, and educational resources from past victims.

Mr Tuck, a legal advisor to Bali death row inmate Lindsay Sandiford, said the project was a "world first" in combating unwitting drug mules, those forced into slavery and other victims of human trafficking.

The portal is available at