‘Child abduction alert!’ system launched

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On May 20, Romania will make operational a child abduction alert system based on the AMBER alerts in effect in several European countries.

The ‘Child abduction alert’ system implemented by Romanian Police, the Prosecutor’s Office of the High Court of Cassation and Justice, and the Romanian Center for Missing and Sexually Abused Children (FOCUS) will help authorities obtain information from the population about cases of missing/abducted children as soon as an incident is reported, so they can act promptly and avoid further danger to the child’s mental and physical integrity, Mediafax reports.

According to the deputy general inspector of Romanian Police, Dumitru Parvu, the mechanism will be complementary to regular Police and Justice procedures in solving such cases, and alerting the population will be achieved through public and private partners, media, train stations and public transport. The mechanism will become active only in those situations when there is clear evidence that the minor was kidnapped, or when his life is in danger, and will not be used for all cases of missing children, Parvu added.

The chief of Bucharest Police, Vasile Viorel, who coordinates the ‘Child abduction alert’ system in Romania, explained that the alert mechanism will become active when certain criteria are simultaneously met: if the missing person is really a minor (under 18), if there are witnesses of the abduction or if it is just a case of missing child, if evidence points to an abduction, or if the minor’s life is in danger. On the other hand, meeting the criteria does not necessarily imply activating the alert mechanism, as there may be situations when broadcasting the alert might hamper the investigation or even put the victim in more danger. Before issuing an alert bulletin, authorities should seek the acceptance of the child’s parents/tutors. However, prosecutors may order an alert to be issued anyway, if this is beneficial to either the minor or the investigation, Quaestor Vasile Viorel added.

Since the beginning of the year, 692 cases of missing children have been reported, and Police is still looking for 347 minors. In 99 pc of the case, the children are identified, Dumitru Parvu said. Most disappearance cases involve minors who left their homes or orphanages voluntarily, the main reasons being the temptation of vagrancy, fear from parents’ reaction to bad results at school, the intention of concubinage or marriage rejected by parents, or the wish to make money.

The CALLALERT (Child Call Alert) project is co-financed by the European Commission (EC) since 2009. Its value amounts to nearly EUR 300,000, including EUR 236,000 as EC contribution.