On 3 and 4 November, Ministers of the Salzbourg Forum adopted a Joint Declaration which acknowledges the urgent need for new solutions and improvements in the search for missing children, including a better use of citizens’ assistance and an effective inter-agency cooperation.

Milan Chovanec, Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic: “In most of European countries, including the Salzburg Forum Member States, the state border is easy to reach. When a child goes missing, quick and effective cross-border information exchange between national law enforcement authorities and other expert bodies is therefore crucial. Since every endangered missing child deserves an equal chance of being found as quickly as possible, this must not be inhibited by them crossing borders.”

The Joint Declaration was signed by Ministers of Interior Affairs from Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Expert meeting on saving missing children in 2017

To further develop these ideas and support law enforcement, the nine Ministers welcomed the idea of organising an expert meeting in the first half of 2017. During this meeting the notion of a quick risk assessment to qualify the risk of a missing child will be discussed. “I hope we will be able to meet on an expert basis and prepare some changes which would enhance our cooperation when child goes missing on any of the Member States territory”, elaborates Milan Chovanec, Minister of the Interior of the Czech Republic”

The adopted Joint Declaration elaborates on initiatives taken by the Dutch Presidency,  and the European Parliament & AMBER Alert Europe. These initiatives prioritise the protection of missing children and emphasize the importance of closer cooperation with law enforcement authorities and other expert bodies.

Growing support for AMBER Alert Europe

The Joint Declaration reached by the nine states is another example that finding missing children is on the top of the European political agenda. Earlier this year, 465 MEPs signed a Written Declaration on missing children and the Dutch Presidency launched a European platform of national police contact points for missing children and non-binding guidelines for its Member States on the use of cross-border citizen assistance.

AMBER Alert Europe continues to work with the current Slovakian and upcoming Maltese Presidency to make sure missing children remain a key priority.