2007 International Center for Missing & Exploited Children Press Release Documents

CEO of Leading Childrens Organization Briefs Queens and First Ladies in Paris on Missing and Sexually Exploited Children | ICMEC | JAN 17, 2007

CEO OF LEADING CHILDRENS ORGANIZATION BRIEFS QUEENS AND FIRST LADIES IN PARIS ON MISSING AND SEXUALLY EXPLOITED CHILDREN

Madame Chirac Makes Historic Appeal to End Global Child Exploitation

Alexandria, VA and Paris, France – January 17, 2007 – Ernie Allen, the President and CEO of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), based in Alexandria, Virginia, today briefed queens and first ladies from eight nations on the issue of missing, abducted and sexually exploited children.  The meeting was hosted by First Lady of the Republic of France, Bernadette Chirac, at the Elysee Palace in Paris, and was attended by Laura Bush, the First Lady of the United States; Queen Silvia of Sweden; Queen Paola of Belgium; Lyudmila Putin, the First Lady of Russia; Suzanne Mubarak, the First Lady of Egypt; Jolanta Kwasniewska, the former First Lady of Poland; Margarida Sousa Uva Barroso, the wife of the President of the European Commission and former First Lady of Portugal; and Valentina Matvienko, the former Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation and current Governor of St. Petersburg.  Allen’s briefing took place during a meeting of the organization’s Honorary Board of Directors.

At the conclusion of the meeting, Madame Chirac issued an historic “Déclaration de Paris,” calling upon all European Union Member States to unite in the protection of children worldwide.

Allen, who is also President and CEO of ICMEC’s sister organization in the U.S., the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), reported, “We are witnessing an explosion in child sexual exploitation worldwide. The statistics regarding the number of missing, abducted, and sexually exploited children around the world are alarming.”

He stated that leading scholars indicate that 1 in 5 girls, and 1 in 10 boys, will be sexually victimized in some way before they reach the age of 18.  The most recent studies indicate that nearly two million children are being used in the commercial sex trade, including some as young as 14 months of age.

He also discussed the impact of the Internet on child sexual exploitation.  In a very short time, child pornography has become a multi-billion dollar commercial industry, perhaps the fastest growing business on the Internet.  Yet, a 2005 review by ICMEC of existing child pornography laws in the 186 member countries of Interpol found that 95 nations had no law at all on child pornography and 136 nations do not make it a crime to possess child pornography.

In 2006, a Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography was created by ICMEC and NCMEC with a goal of eradicating commercial child pornography by 2008, following the money and stopping payments.  Participants in the coalition include 29 of the world’s leading financial and Internet companies who, in an unprecedented move, have pledged to work together to shut down these Internet websites.  Members of the Coalition include America Online, American Express, Bank of America, Chase Bank, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Google, HSBC, MasterCard, Microsoft, Standard Chartered Bank, Visa, and Yahoo, among others.

Microsoft is also working with ICMEC to provide training on computer-facilitated crimes against children.  To date, in partnership with Interpol, ICMEC has trained law-enforcement officials from 96 countries.

Still more needs to be done.  Allen outlined four recommendations.

(1)  Improve the ability of every nation to protect its children by creating better reporting and creating new centers focusing on abduction and exploitation before human tragedies occur;

(2)  Engage and mobilize the media and other private sector companies to offer assistance in finding missing children.  Protecting the world’s children cannot be left solely to governments;

(3)  Continue to disrupt the efforts of those who use the Internet to exploit and victimize children by eliminating the profitability of child pornography;

(4)  Raise awareness about these issues among world leaders and persuade them to enact and enforce stricter laws that crack down on child pornography and exploitation.

“In a civilized society, if our children are not safe, then nothing else matters,” stated Allen.  “These are among the most powerful, influential and respected women in the world.  I am confident that their message today will mobilize many nations to take swift action to eradicate these insidious acts against children.”

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children 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.  It is the sister organization of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.  For more information, visitwww.icmec.org

Contact:
ICMEC Communications Department
(703) 837-6111



ICMEC Urges Swift Adoption of Child Pornography Laws Worldwide Following Break up of Major International Child Pornography Ring | ICMEC | FEB 27, 2007

ICMEC Urges Swift Adoption of Child Pornography Laws Worldwide Following Break Up of Major International Child Pornography Ring

95 Interpol Member Countries Are Without Child Pornography Laws

ALEXANDRIA, VA – February 27, 2007 – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children today urged world leaders to take immediate steps to create or enhance their existing child pornography laws, and bring to justice those producing and distributing child pornography worldwide. To date, 95 of the 186 countries that are members of the Interpol, the world’s most preeminent law enforcement organization, are without laws that specifically address child pornography. Dozens more have laws in place that are considered inadequate.

The call for immediate action follows the dismantling of a major international child pornography ring by Austrian authorities, who identified more than 2,300 suspects across 77 countries. Investigators said the confiscated images and videos that were illegally sold and traded on the Internet were incredibly disturbing and were described as the worst kind of child sexual abuse.

“The Austrian authorities led a major enforcement action which underscores the seriousness and enormity of child pornography distribution in a global market,” said ICMEC President and CEO Ernie Allen. “We applaud their efforts and encourage the creation, enhancement, and effective enforcement of child pornography legislation worldwide. We cannot begin to protect our children, without strict laws in place and dedicated individuals to enforce them.”

Allen said that while the majority of suspects identified in the Austrian child pornography ring are operating in countries with comprehensive child pornography laws, swift enforcement of those laws is imperative to combating the child pornography epidemic.

Last April, ICMEC conducted a study of the 186 Interpol Member Counties to determine which have legislation considered comprehensive enough to make a significant impact on child pornography.

The laws of each country were examined based on the following criteria set by ICMEC:

Is child pornography specifically criminalized?

  • Does existing law include a legal definition of child pornography?
  • Is the simple possession of child pornography a crime?
  • Is the distribution of child pornography via computer and the Internet a crime?
  • Are Internet Service Providers (ISPs) required to repot suspected child pornography to law enforcement?

Allen said the findings were alarming. Just five countries meet all the criteria. They are Australia, Belgium, France, South Africa and the United States. Only 23 meet all but the last criteria pertaining to ISP reporting, and 95 counties have no legislation at all that specifically addresses child pornography.

Of the remaining counties that DO have legislation specifically addressing child pornography:

  • 55 do not define child pornography in national legislation;
  • 27 do not provide for computer-facilitated offenses; and
  • 43 do not criminalize possession of child pornography, regardless of the intent to distribute.

“Since our study was first released, some changes have been made but much more is necessary especially in the area of Internet Service Provider reporting,” Allen said. “The recent bust in Austria is proof positive that the Internet knows no geographic boundaries and that legislation is crucial to fight these insidious crimes against children. ISPs, big and small, cannot be complacent in this effort.”

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EDITOR’S NOTE: A copy of the ICMEC report is available by contacting (703) 837-6111 or visiting www.icmec.org

The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children 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. It is the sister organization of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children.

 

Contact:
NCMEC’s Communications Department
703-837-6111
media@ncmec.org



Statement Regarding e-gold Expulsion from Financial Coalition | ICMEC | MAY 1, 2007

Statement Regarding e-gold Expulsion from Financial Coalition

Alexandria, VA – April 30, 2007.  The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, together with its sister organization, the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children today announced that e-gold has been expelled from the membership of the Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography (FCACP).  e-gold had been a member of FCACP since 2006.

Upon learning that an indictment had been returned against e-gold alleging that e-gold has been a highly favored method of payment by operators of investments scams, credit card and identify fraud, and sellers of online child pornography, and that the company conducted funds transfers on behalf of their customers knowing that the funds involved were the proceeds of unlawful activity including child exploitation and as a result violated money laundering statutes, e-gold was immediately expelled from the Coalition.

“We were shocked and disappointed to learn of these allegations,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO.  “The work the Coalition is doing is of tremendous importance and will not be impacted in any way by the expulsion of e-gold.”

The Financial Coalition Against Child Pornography was formed to address the alarming growth of commercial child pornography over the Internet, which has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise.  The Coalition is comprised of twenty-nine leading banks, credit card companies, third-party payment companies, and Internet services companies which have pledged to work towards eliminating the commercial viability of child pornography on the Internet.  The members of the Coalition represent 90% of the U.S. payments industry, as well as several leading international financial and Internet companies.

Through the Coalition, the flow of funds is being disrupted and payment accounts are being shut down, making the business of selling and purchasing child pornography much more difficult.  However, commercial distributors of child pornography are constantly creating new types of currencies.  In addition to eliminating the ability to use traditional payment methods such as credit cards, FCACP is working to curtail the use of alternative payment mechanisms to purchase child pornography.

About the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children
NCMEC is a 501(c )(3) nonprofit organization that works in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.  NCMEC’s congressionally mandated CyberTipline, a reporting mechanism for child sexual exploitation, has handled more than 475,000 leads.  Since its establishment in 1984, NCMEC has assisted law enforcement with more than 127,900 missing children cases, resulting in the recovery of more than 110,200 children.  For more information about NCMEC, call its toll-free, 24-hour hotline at 1-800-THE-LOST or visit its website at www.missingkids.com.

About the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children
ICMEC is a private, 501(c )(3) nonprofit nongovernmental organization.  It is the leading agency working on a global basis to combat child abduction and exploitation.  It is the sister organization of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.  For more information about ICMEC, call 001.703.274.3900 or visit its website at www.icmec.org



New Center in Romania to Aid Missing and Exploited Children | ICMEC | JUN 19, 2007

NEW CENTER IN ROMANIA TO AID MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN

ALEXANDRIA, VA – June 19, 2007 – To combat the growing problem of missing and exploited children, including child trafficking and child prostitution, a new non-governmental organization (NGO), The Romanian Center for Missing and Exploited Children has opened in Bucharest, Romania.

The new center will work closely with government, law enforcement, other non-governmental organizations, and the general public on cases involving and issues affecting missing and sexually exploited children and their families.

The new center is a member of the global network that is being created by the U.S.-based International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC). The new Romanian Center was modeled after the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) in the U.S. and Child Focus in Belgium.

Why Romania?

• The number of missing children reported missing in Romania has steadily increased from 244 in 2003, to 660 in 2004, to 750 in 2005.
• There are an estimated 100,000 homeless children throughout Eastern Europe, including 2,000 in Romania. Child trafficking and child prostitution are problems in Romania and represent a large threat throughout Eastern Europe. Homeless or “street” children are frequent victims. An estimated 5 percent of the homeless children in Romania are forced into child prostitution.
• An estimated 30% of sex workers in Bucharest are under 18 years of age. Romania, and in particular Bucharest, is one of the key travel destinations in Europe for child sex offenders.
• Romania is a country of origin and transit for women and girls who are internationally trafficked from Moldova, Ukraine, and other parts of the former Soviet Union to Asia, the Middle East and Europe.
• Romania has the seventh largest population and the ninth largest territory in the European Union. It is the largest country in Southeastern Europe and the twelfth largest in all of Europe. Romania is not only a leader in shaping policies of Eastern Europe, but it now enjoys membership in the European Union.

The new center was established through the leadership and efforts of Mihaela Geoana who will serve as the organization’s Chairman of the Board. Mrs. Geoana is a Board Member of the International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), and wife of the former Foreign Minister of Romania.

The new Romanian Center will provide a variety of information and services for both law enforcement officials and the public, including the following:

• Operate a new 24-hour call center to receive and manage reports of missing and sexually exploited children;
• Establish networks within Romanian stakeholders who work to report and solve cases involving missing and sexually exploited children;
• Facilitate communications and coordination with similar centers throughout the world;
• Establish a system to monitor and track cases;
• Develop a national network of volunteers that will be trained and utilized in search operations;
• Provide technical assistance to professionals who interact with children and their families to be responsive to the special needs of victim children and their families;
• Increase public education and awareness about the issues of missing and exploited children through media campaigns, conferences, workshops and other events; and
• Establish a monitoring system to help prevent children from becoming victims of Internet child pornography.

“The problems of child abduction and child sexual exploitation need to be addressed on a global basis. Creating regional and national centers similar to the new center in Romania is critical to eliminating the problems of child victimization,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC. “There is no greater priority than protecting children and keeping them safe.”

The new Romanian Center opened on May 25 – the day set aside around the world to remember missing children who have not yet been recovered and to celebrate those missing children who have been safely returned to their families. Funding for the new center will be through private donations, with special thanks to lead corporate donors, TOTAL and Microsoft Corporation.

About The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
ICMEC is a private, non-profit 501(c)(3) non-governmental organization. It is the leading organization working on a global basis to combat child abduction and exploitation. It is the sister organization of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. For more information, visit ICMEC or copii Disparuti



New Global Internet Channel launched to find missing children | ICMEC | AUG 10, 2007

NEW GLOBAL INTERNET CHANNEL LAUNCHED TO FIND MISSING CHILDREN

The International Centre For Missing & Exploited Children Partners With YouTube And The Find Madeline Campaign

Alexandria, VA – August 10, 2007 – The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC), in partnership with Google’s YouTube, and The Find Madeleine Campaign today announced the creation of a new initiative that will provide worldwide exposure to information and videos of missing children. A new YouTube Missing Children’s Channel has been created exclusively for posting videos of missing children. The new channel can be found at www.youtube.com/DontYouForgetAboutMe and will be operational today.

Case information and videos of missing children will first be submitted to ICMEC for review and verification before posting on the new channel. ICMEC will work with analysts at the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC), local and national law enforcement on U.S. cases, and with Interpol on international cases to confirm it is an open case and verify the details of the case and video. After the case information has been certified, it will be forwarded to YouTube for posting. Anyone with information about a missing child featured on the website will be directed to contact the appropriate law enforcement agency.

“Every year hundreds of thousands of children go missing around the world and some are abducted to other countries, creating unique challenges for law enforcement and family members searching for them,” said Ernie Allen, President and CEO of ICMEC. “In the U.S. alone, nearly 800,000 children are missing each year or about 2,000 each day. Photos remain the single most effective tool for finding a missing child. This new resource will provide unprecedented exposure for missing children, reaching potentially millions of viewers every day and increasing the opportunity that someone has seen them.”

The timing of the announcement coincides with the 100th day since Madeleine McCann went missing. Madeleine disappeared on May 3, 2007 while on a family vacation in Portugal. This past June, Madeleine’s parents, Gerry and Kate McCann, sought ICMEC’s assistance to create an international resource that would quickly disseminate pictures of missing children throughout the world. Gerry McCann recently visited the headquarters of NCMEC and ICMEC in Virginia where he and Allen discussed the need for disseminating information and images of missing children on a broader, global basis.

“Kate and I are really enthusiastic about this powerful new resource,” said Gerry McCann, Madeleine’s father. “We believe it will help in the search for Madeleine and many other children. We are grateful to ICMEC for its leadership on behalf of our child and so many others.”

YouTube, which is owned by Google, is a popular video sharing website and leader in online video. Its popularity and global reach made YouTube a natural choice as a partner in this project. The channel’s headline banner, “Don’t You Forget About Me,” is named after the hit song by the Scottish rock group “Simple Minds.”

In addition to information and videos of missing children, the channel will include child safety and educational materials in several languages as well as Public Service Announcements and messages from dignitaries, celebrities and others including First Lady Laura Bush and soccer star David Beckham.

There will be no cost to post a video of a missing child on the new channel. Instructions and criteria for submitting a video can be found on the channel site or www.icmec.org. No incomplete or anonymous submissions will be accepted.



U.S./Balkan Leaders to Address Crisis of Child Abduction, Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children | ICMEC | OCT 2, 2007 

U.S./BALKAN LEADERS TO ADDRESS CRISIS OF CHILD ABDUCTION, SEXUAL EXPLOITATION AND TRAFFICKING OF CHILDREN

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children (ICMEC) announced today that the first U.S./Balkan Forum on Missing and Sexually Exploited Children will be held in Athens, Greece on Oct. 10. The meeting will address the global problem of missing children, child abduction, and the sexual exploitation of children, including child trafficking and child pornography on the Internet. Participants will discuss ways nations can work together to better protect children and keep them safe.

Representatives from governments and NGOs from ten Balkan countries will be attending, including Albania, Bosnie-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Greece, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania and Serbia, as well as representatives from the United States. The forum will be hosted by the U.S.-based International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children, together with Greek NGO The Smile of the Child.

The problem of missing, abducted and sexually exploited children is large, under-recognized and underreported. The full extent of the problem worldwide is not yet known. However, it is clear that the numbers are growing. In the U.S. alone, 800,000 children are reported missing each year, including 58,000 who are abducted by non-family members. In the United Kingdom 105,000 children are reported missing each year, 50,000 in Germany, and 39,000 in France.

The problem of child sexual exploitation has reached the crisis stage. An estimated 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 10 boys will be sexually victimized before they reach the age of 18, and only 1 in 3 will tell anyone about it. That translates to millions of children, most of who do not report the abuse and do not get help.

An estimated 1.2 million children are trafficked annually around the world, with trafficking of both adults and children representing a roughly $10 billion-a-year industry. Some estimates conclude that half of trafficking victims are children.

Child sexual exploitation has exploded with the advent of the Internet, and Internet child pornography has become a multibillion-dollar commercial industry. A 2006 review by ICMEC of the laws of 186 member countries of Interpol uncovered alarming results – that 95 countries had no law at all on child pornography and 137 nations do not consider it a crime to possess child pornography. Only 28 countries have laws comprehensive enough to make a significant impact on the crime.

“Governments and organizations in every country need to work together across international borders to protect children from being victimized,” said Ernie Allen, president and CEO of ICMEC. “We are optimistic that the dialogue we will create in the Balkans will foster greater cooperation and save children’s lives.”

Other participants in the day-long forum will include representatives from various international organizations, including Missing Children Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Interpol, the United Nations, the International Organization for Migration, and the International Criminal Investigative Training Assistance Program.

ICMEC has developed model legislation and continues to work with governments around the world to strengthen child pornography laws and to ensure that child pornography is a universally punishable offense. The organization has also held training in 105 countries to provide tools and techniques to enable law enforcement in any country to effectively investigate and prosecute online-facilitated crimes against children.

International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children
The International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children 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. It is the sister organization of the U.S.-based National Center for Missing & Exploited Children. For more information visit www.icmec.org or call 001 703-837-6111.

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MEDIA NOTE: The forum is closed to the news media, but media are invited to attend the keynote lunch speech.

WHO: Baron Daniel Cardon de Lichtbuer, Chairman of the Board International Centre for Missing & Exploited Children

WHAT: U.S./Balkan Forum on Missing and Sexually Exploited Children Keynote lunch speaker

DATE: Wednesday, 10 October 2007

TIME: 12:45 PM

LOCATION: Hotel Grande Bretagne, Ballroom C, Constitution Square, 105-63 Athens, Greece

MEDIA CONTACT: United States: David Egner or Barbara Petito. media@ncmec.org and 001 703-837-6111, or 001-703-837-6251, or 703-837-4623. Greece: Sherry Bailey 001 703-298-8282