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Chief prosecutor rings alarm bells over rising number of missing children

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU

Linas Jegelevičius for the BNN

This week, Lithuania’s chief watchdog of law, Prosecutor General Evaldas Pašilis has rung alarm bells over an increase of missing children in the country.

Although the official statistics is low, the increase of long-term missing cases may signal that the children have fallen victims to human trafficking or sexual or criminal abuse, he warned.

«Five to eight years ago, we used to have two or three children annual when they indeed went missing, and the numbers have grown…The nearly few thousand cases I have mentioned are not the true numbers, they are indeed much smaller. But they are likely due to human trafficking,» Pašilis said in an event organised to discuss efforts to tackle the problem of missing children in the region. « It is difficult to interpret the statistics as we have the Schengen area, we have refugees, foreigners and children often skip school,» he added.

In the gathering, police and prosecutors, social and education workers as well as world-level experts from the Baltic region and beyond shared their experience and discussed ways how to prevent such cases and what assistance is need for the families with missing children.

Caroline Humer, director of the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children (ICMEC), said the centre was working to bring attention to the links of missing children to violence against children and sexual abuse, as well as to develop a «global response».

In her words, experts of the centre will tell Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian representatives about possible measures in such cases, including risk assessment, analyse the reasons behind the problem and present a rapid response system that should help Lithuania track down children in danger.

Natalija Kurčinskaja, director of the Lithuanian Centre for Support to Families of Missing People, told BNN that children accounted for over 40 per cent of all missing people in 2013, but grew to over 67 per cent last year.

«To translate the percentage, we had 1980 cases of missing children last year. It does not mean that all the children are missing though. There are multiple cases of repeated missing, when the children disappear and then show up somewhere,» she emphasised.

According to her, there are nine children that are being actively searched now.

«This year, the number of missing children will be higher than last year,» she predicted.

«Unfortunately, the children living in foster homes and boarding schools are increasingly running away. Many of the runaway children run away multiple times. The more often they do so, the more predisposed they are to human trafficking and sexual abuse,» the centre head concluded.

In her words, communicating with a runaway child is very complicated.

«The cases are very difficult as runaway children refuse to speak about their time and new acquaintances outside the foster home or the foster families,» Kurčinskaja said.

According to her, foster homes tend to withheld information about missing children from law enforcement institutions.

«It is like a catch-22 situation. You try to tackle the situation, but bump every time into the wall, to speak figuratively,» director of the Centre for Support to Families of Missing People accentuated.

She said that she increasingly observes a problem when the educators fail to reach out to the youngsters.

«Nowadays, the adults tend to have a rather little influence on the modern children. The influence of the internet, especially social media and the street has become big,» Kurčinskaja underscored.

Rasa Dičpetrienė, director of Gelbėkite Vaikus (Save Children), a NGO, has told media that state institutions  do not heed the problem of missing children appropriately.

«In some European countries, all efforts are exerted to find a missing child. Even local taxi drivers receive information about the missing child. We need to do a lot more in the regard. The efforts were more successful if we had more non-governmental organisations involved in the search and the prevention,» she accentuated.

Disagreeing, Ramūnas Matonis, a Communications specialist of the Ministry of Interior Affairs, counter argued that the police find over 90 per cent of missing children.

According to him, in 2015, the police were searching for over 3500 missing people. Among them were 2113 children.

«We succeeded in locating over 90 per cent of the children,» Matonis emphasised.

It is estimated that, every year, around 250 000 children disappear in the European Union. The statistics of the kind in Lithuania is not accurate, however, the Gelbėkite Vaikus head says.

It is estimated that in Lithuania vanish over a thousand people per year. Nearly half of them are underage persons, according to the statistics.

How acute the problem of missing children is demonstrates the front headlines-grabbing investigation started by the Lithuanian police this week.

The police have cracked a ring of child pornography possessors and disseminators. A total of 50 search warrants had been issue for the bust.

«As a result, the police have commenced 42 pre-trial investigations on the grounds of possession and distribution of child pornography,» Linas Pernavas, chief commissar of Lithuanian police, told the media Wednesday, October 25.

Ref: 020/

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  1. mort says:

    This is a horrific and pervasive problem that occurs all over the globe, people like Hillary Clinton, John Podesta and Jimmy Savile are involved with these networks that climb the elite ranks.
    Protect, guard, and educate your children of this problem, otherwise they might fall victim to these inhuman scum.

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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