US/European Leaders Unite to Protect Children From Predators

Thursday November 3, 8:00 am ET

ALEXANDRIA, Va., Nov. 3 /PRNewswire/
– Top officials from the U.S. and 21 other countries adopted an aggressive 17-point action plan to eliminate commercial child pornography worldwide by 2008; establish new national centers in Europe patterned after the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the U.S. and Child Focus in Belgium; create a universal three-digit phone number for reporting missing children; establish an expanded database of convicted pedophiles; and develop a system to track child traffickers across borders.

The action plan was adopted last week by the attendees at the first U.S./European Summit on Missing and Exploited Children held in Buonas, Switzerland. The meeting, sponsored by the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children in partnership with Child Focus, was hosted by Swiss healthcare company, F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd.

Margarida Barroso, wife of the President of the European Commission, said, "More than ever, Americans and Europeans must stay close together in the defense of the most vulnerable. But the task is so urgent and so immense that all actors must mobilize." She added, "The good news is that we already have the appropriate framework. The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children has already united Europeans and Americans in common action."

Juan Miguel Petit, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Sale of Children, Child Prostitution and Child Pornography, said "Our challenge is to reach the problems before the problems reach us … we need resources and political will from governments and international organizations, but we also need a map, a plan, to show that we not only have sensitivity and good will, but the capacity of developing strong action."

John Walsh, co-founder of NCMEC, host of "America’s Most Wanted," and father of an abducted and murdered child, said, " … 24 years ago, there was nothing. I never dreamed that a meeting like this was possible, or that we could unite to help children everywhere." Walsh was joined by other victim parents, including Michel Bruyere of Belgium and Colleen Nick of the U.S.

Participants in the Summit included government leaders, non-governmental organizations, business executives, law enforcement officials, judges, prosecutors, researchers and physicians. Among the organizations represented were the European Commission, the Council of Europe, the U.S. State Department, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the United Nations.

The International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children, sister organization of NCMEC, is a private, nonprofit 501 (c) (3) nongovernmental organization. It is the leading agency working on a global basis to combat child abduction and exploitation.

The 17-point action plan follows.

U.S./EUROPEAN SUMMIT ON MISSING & EXPLOITED CHILDREN
25 – 27 October 2005
Roche Forum, Buonas, Switzerland

ACTION PLAN

Representatives of 22 countries participated in the first U.S./European Summit on Missing & Exploited Children and adopted the following 17-point Action Plan:

Joint U.S./European Initiatives

  1. Promote the creation of new operational centers in individual countries modeled after the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children in the United States and Child Focus in Belgium. The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) and Child Focus will develop a standard protocol and certification process for new national operational centers.
  2. Work together to eradicate the commercial viability of child pornography by January 1, 2008, mobilizing banking and financial industry leaders.  Collaborate in developing a uniform system for the reporting of child pornography by Internet Service Providers. Advocate that every country criminalize the possession of child pornography. Expand efforts to identify children used in child pornography.
  3. Promote expanded research to provide greater awareness and understanding of the true scope of the problem of missing and exploited children.
  4. Evaluate and implement a database of known, convicted pedophiles and other sexual predators against children in the U.S. and Europe.
  5. Develop joint technology to track child traffickers.
  6. Promote the creation of a three digit phone number for missing child reports worldwide with calls then transferred to the certified missing children’s call center in each country.
  7. Create and promote systems to more rapidly disseminate missing child photographs and ensure that every country has a viable photo distribution system.
  8. Promote the creation of a common, criminal DNA databank in Europe.
  9. Implement the U.S. Amber Alert system in Europe.
  10. Advocate and promote the implementation of the various European child protection conventions adopted by European bodies. Examine these European conventions as potential models to enhance U.S. law.  Create greater consistency and uniformity between the U.S. and Europe on these issues.
  11. Implement joint training for U.S./European law enforcement and other professionals to ensure that there is the highest level of expertise and sophistication in working missing and exploited child cases.

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) Initiatives:

  1. Identify "best practices" in the field of missing and exploited children in the U.S. and Europe.  Produce and disseminate "Best Practice Guides" to law enforcement, prosecution, social services, NGOs, policy makers and other officials.
  2. Draft and promote formal cooperation agreements between NGOs, law enforcement and other public agencies.
  3. Develop and promote a common, agreed-upon definition of child exploitation, considering economic as well as sexual exploitation.
  4. Explore and advocate the development of sibling support programs for families of missing and exploited children.
  5. Promote the implementation of the provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and similar international instruments to ensure that children are protected.
  6. Advocate greater attention on the issues relating to child abduction and child sexual exploitation by the United Nations and other international bodies.

Source: International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
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