18 February 2009

Children: Portugal is an example for the added value of the European number for missing children – Brussels

Brussels, 18 Feb (Lusa) – Portugal is one of the five European Union member states where the European number for missing children is operational, the European Commission has indicated today, referring to a case that recently occurred in Portugal as an example of the utility of this direct line.

Today, the communitarian executive has assessed the present situation concerning the implementation of the 116000 telephone number, which the Commission reserved two years ago as a common direct EU-wide line for all missing children, and while lamenting that it is operational in only five countries, gave an example of its utility in a case of international abduction that was solved last year due to an alert that was launched in Portugal.

In September 2008, a Belgian citizen who abducted his three underage daughters in Antwerp, bringing them into Portugal, was arrested in Viseu, “minutes after” an alert that was launched by the Institute for Child Support, the Portuguese entity that was made responsible for the European unique number by the Government.

“The implementation of 116000 in the whole of Europe will render the search campaigns and the international cooperation more effective. Direct lines are able to act in a more coordinated manner to solve the cases of missing children across borders”, the European Commission underlined today.

According to Brussels, the 116000 is a service that is now operational in five countries (Greece, Hungary, the Netherlands, Portugal and Romania) and soon, in two more countries (Belgium and Slovakia).

“I was expecting a more ambitious approach from the other Member States. There is no space nor time for condescendence when our children’s safety is at stake”, the European Commissioner for telecommunications, Viviane Reding, commented today.

In an appeal for the other countries “to honour their responsibilities and inform the service providers about the availability of numbers starting with 116, in order for the direct lines to become rapidly operational all over the EU”, the commissioner said that “more than a mere legal obligation”, that she will continue to try to enforce, “this is a moral obligation towards European parents and children”.

In July 2006, the European Commission proposed to reserve a common phone number for communications about the disappearance of children (116000) and another one that children themselves can call when they need help (116111).

source: Lusa, 18.02.2009

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