Today marks a historic moment for the fundamental rights protection of missing and unidentified persons in the EU. AMBER Alert Europe, the European Centre for Missing Children, is thrilled to announce the successful adoption of the Prüm II regulation by the European Parliament, specifically the inclusion of missing persons. This marks a significant leap forward to protect and find the missing.

Data from 18 EU countries reveals a staggering number of over 300,000 people reported missing annually. These countries collectively have about 40,000 unresolved missing person cases. Additionally, 15,000 cases of unidentified bodies have been reported in 15 countries. Prüm II now facilitates the automated search and comparison of DNA profiles, dactyloscopic data, and other critical information, enhancing law enforcement agencies’ ability to search for missing persons and identify unidentified human remains promptly and cohesively.

From the outset, AMBER Alert Europe was actively engaged in ensuring that Prüm II would extend to missing persons. We worked tirelessly with the European Parliament’s Rapporteur, Shadow Rapporteurs, and the LIBE Committee, along with the European Council, to extend Prüm II to the search for missing persons and unidentified human remains, particularly for cases where there is no element of crime, yet fundamental rights of the missing person or the victims are still at stake.

We extend our congratulations to the Spanish Presidency of the European Council for their steadfast and commendable stance throughout the Prüm II discussions. Their unwavering commitment was instrumental in the inclusion of these critical provisions.

Respecting Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights has established the obligation of law enforcement to protect life. This includes a duty to protect individuals from threats and to safeguard the vulnerable. Prüm II aligns with this principle by providing critical tools for law enforcement agencies to fulfil this obligation more effectively.

Enhancing police capabilities through Prüm II also brings much-needed closure to families of missing persons, respecting and protecting the rights of victims. The right to private life, as stipulated in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, includes the deceased. Ensuring the identification of missing persons and the deceased respects this right, providing closure not only to the individual’s fate but also to their families and friends.

As AMBER Alert Europe, we stand ready to support Prüm II, harnessing its potential to bring hope and answers to those awaiting the return of their missing loved ones. The Prüm regulation acknowledges a vital truth: the search for missing persons cannot not be sufficiently achieved by the Member States alone. The challenges we face in locating missing individuals are complex and require a coordinated approach that only collective action at the EU level can effectively address.

Together, we are stronger. Together, we can make a difference in the lives of missing persons and their families across the EU. Here’s to a future where no individual is beyond reach, and every missing person has the chance to be found.